SOUTH WINDSOR – An RBI single from Matt Leopold during the top of the seventh inning sent Avon Legion baseball past Bristol, 1-0, on Thursday in the semifinal round of the senior state tournament at Rotary Field.
With one on and two outs, Leopold slung a bloop single to right-center field to score Chris Boudreau as the eventual game-winning run.
“The guy stuck it and just happened to hit it where nobody was,” Bristol coach Jerry LaPenta said. “It wasn’t a great hit, it was just kind of a desperation thing, but you’re not going to win if you don’t score.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Bristol’s leadoff batter Ryan Fradette walked to put the tying run on base early in the frame, however a sacrifice bunt from Dylan Woodsome and a strikeout to Owen Davis quickly flipped a promising situation on its head. Evan Bouchard grounded out to end the threat as third-seeded Bristol’s summer season concluded at the hands of its Zone 1 counterpart.
“We had our chances, we had a guy on second base with one out and we had a chance to get him in and we didn’t do it,” LaPenta said. “I’m still really proud of the guys, they played hard.”
Matt Beaucar pitched for Bristol and was on his game as No. 21 scattered two hits for one run while striking out two and walking a pair.
“He pitched awesome,” LaPenta said. “Not only that, but he pitched on Sunday, a couple innings. Then he came in and closed a real pressure game last night, even though he threw only 10 pitches, it’s still taxing mentally. He just threw a great game. They pushed one across and we didn’t. That’s how it goes sometimes.”
On the other side, Leopold was equally impressive on the mound for Avon, picking up four strikeouts while allowing just two hits and two walks in seven innings.
Fradette and Trevor Nohilly were the two Bristol batters who managed hits off of Leopold as Bristol had a hard time putting runners on base.
“Everything is going to be tight [in the playoffs],” LaPenta said. “It was going to come down to one play.”
While its offense never really got going, Bristol’s defense was sharp, highlighted by a pair of stellar plays from third baseman Zack Rinkavage that kept Avon from breaking the score open.
“We played well,” LaPenta said. “Sometimes losing like this hurts even more than getting blown out because it was right there for the taking.”
The defeat closes the curtain on a fabulous season for Bristol, which finished 17-6 as the top team in Zone 1. Bristol beat South Windsor (9-2) and Tri-Town (2-1) to advance to Thursday’s semifinal.
“I told the guys [after the game] I’m real proud of them,” LaPenta said. “We got screwed out of the tiebreaker, but we came back, won the zone, had a good seed, had a nice run and they made it a real enjoyable summer for me.
“I consider them as an extension of my family,” LaPenta said. “This year was all good kids. Nobody complained about playing time, about where they were playing, they just showed up and played hard.”
Avon advanced to the Northern Region final with the victory and will face the winner of Middletown and Waterford on Friday.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.