NEW BRITAIN - On Baseball in Education Day at New Britain Stadium, Anthony Marzi took the Bridgeport Bluefish to school.
The Berlin native pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout as the New Britain Bees beat the Bluefish 4-0 in the first game of their doubleheader Tuesday afternoon.
New Britain would drop Game 2 7-2 for the split, but it was Marzi who stole the show in the first game. The left-hander delivered his best performance of the season, going all seven innings and striking out five, while more importantly walking none. It was his longest outing during his tenure with the Bees.
“I was consistently getting ahead of guys,” Marzi said. “Starting off with a first-pitch strike makes pitching a hell of a lot easier than falling behind. That’s kind of what I was able to do all day.
“And that was the first outing, period, in a while that I had no walks so it was pretty nice. I know I got 3-1 a few times in the seventh and I was kind of holding my breath, but that was the best thing I took out of today - no walks and keeping them off the base paths.”
In his previous two starts, the left-hander had given up a combined 13 hits and eight runs. Against the Bluefish, Marzi retired the side in order four times and threw a total of 86 pitches, 60 of which went for strikes.
“Absolutely his best start,” New Britain pitching coach Shawn Gilblair said of the left-hander. “He was attacking hitters. He was offensive and hitters were defensive. He was getting early contact and keeping hitters off balance. You could tell the hitters were uncomfortable. He was in control out there and never wavered.”
As Marzi sent the Bridgeport hitters back to the dugout, the Bees offense provided their starter with early run support with Jonathan Griffin leading the way. The first baseman went 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI in Game 1 to offset a tough second game in which he went hitless in three at-bats.
Griffin’s first home run of the day came on the third pitch he saw in the second inning to put New Britain up 2-0. His very next at-bat in the fourth, Griffin sent the ball over the left-field fence to put the Bees up 4-0. They were his first two homers of the season.
“I just told myself to relax and see the ball deep [in the strike zone],” Griffin said. “The first pitch in the first AB was a cutter away and the second was a fastball in, but when that third pitch came it looked exactly like that first one. So I didn’t try to do anything crazy, I just tried to react to it. And when you react like that, good things happen.”
Jovan Rosa’s double in the third accounted for New Britain’s third run of the game.
New Britain collected nine base hits in the morning game, but three fewer in the afternoon, one of which was Michael Crouse’s two-run homer in the third, which accounted for the team’s only runs.
Jonathan Pettibone returned to the mound after missing his last scheduled start with shoulder soreness. The right-hander surrendered his first two runs of the season and threw 38 pitches over three innings.
“Just starting to build up my pitch count again,” Pettibone said. “[I] took the last start off for precautionary reasons after getting tired early on. The plan was to go out there [today] and throw 40 pitches and get a feel for things, get things moving again and attack hitters.”
But after Crouse tied the game in the third, the Bluefish scored five times over the next three innings to split the doubleheader.
“Today was a successful day for us,” Bees manager Stan Cliburn said. “I’ll take shutting out that team in the first game and coming back to 2-2 in that second game, we just couldn’t hold on. I just like the momentum we’re building coming off that Long Island series.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach