NEW BRITAIN - It was a long Monday night for the New Britain Bees.
The Bees couldn’t get anything going on offense and their pitching was not much better as they fell 12-1 to the Somerset Patriots. Michael Crouse provided the team’s lone run with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Bees manager Stan Cliburn said. “But you have to have a short memory.”
New Britain was outhit just 11-7, but could not put together a consistent inning. And it was a struggle from the start. For the second straight outing, things did not go well for Eric Fornataro.
The Bees’ starter went four innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. Fornataro now has a 9.00 ERA after giving up eight earned runs in eight innings of work.
“He’s just going to have to start mixing his pitches a little bit,” Cliburn said. “If he does that, he’ll be successful.”
Somerset, on the other hand, came out and put four runs on the board in the top of the first inning. Olmo Rosario drove home the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly and was soon followed by three consecutive hits from Bryan LaHair, Jerry Sands and Carlos Guzman that brought home the next two runs. A groundout by Tyler Bortnick brought home run No. 4.
An inning later, Rosario drove in his second run of the game with an RBI single to right field.
“Today I felt pretty good coming out of the gate,” Fornataro said. “I remember when I was starting years back, the hardest inning is the first inning. I was just trying to establish the fastball down and they were getting some good wood on it. I kept trying to make quality pitches and they’re a great-hitting team and put the ball in play and scored some runs.”
New Britain’s hitters, meanwhile, struck out a total of nine times on the night.
Newington native Mike Hepple replaced Fornataro in the fifth and hit a snag himself. Jerry Sands grounded into a fielder’s choice that allowed Alfredo Rodriguez to score after Rosario was caught in a 6-5-6 rundown.
Hepple pitched a clean sixth, but ran into trouble again in the seventh and was pulled in favor of Chris Hayes with one out and the bases loaded. But Hayes did not fare much better.
Twice it looked as though the submarine-style pitcher would get out of the inning. But instead of an inning-ending double play, Sands’ bat broke, providing a weak groundball. The only play was the out at first.
The very next batter, Bees shortstop Steve Carrillo failed to field a groundball of the ball of Guzman, allowing another two runs to score. All three runs - two earned - were charged to Hepple.
But the Patriots were not done. After Crouse drove in New Britain’s lone run in the eighth, Somerset got the run back and then some with Guzman providing the runs once again. The Patriots first baseman cleared a three-run home run over the left field fence off Mike Lee, who was making his Bees season debut.
New Britain went down in order to end the game.
“Their pitchers did a nice job of keeping the ball down,” Bees designated hitter and hitting coach Craig Maddox said. “Any time a pitcher keeps the ball down, no matter who you’re facing, they’re going to have more success than you.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach