NEW BRITAIN - Kyle Simon was waiting for his chance to get back into the New Britain Bees starting rotation. And Friday night, the right-hander did not disappoint anyone other than the Long Island Ducks hitters.
Simon tossed five shutout innings, while Jamar Walton and Michael Crouse each hit a triple and drove in two runs to help the Bees beat the Ducks 6-0 to take the first two games of the four-game set.
The last time New Britain won two games in a row was also against Long Island back on April 29 and 30 before losing eight straight.
It had been a slow start to the season for Simon (2-1), who went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four appearances out of the bullpen. Against the Ducks, he gave up three hits, two of which came in the second inning, and retired the side in order in three of his five innings on the mound.
On the night, Simon allowed just two runners to get into scoring position, leaving both stranded on second and for the first time all season, struck out more batters (three) than he walked (two). Out of his 68 pitches, 46 went for strikes.
As Long Island’s offense struggled, New Britain’s was able to provide its pitcher with two runs in the fourth off Long Island starter Matt Larkins (0-2).
After back-to-back singles by Craig Maddox and Conor Bierfeldt to lead off the inning, Jonathan Griffin slapped a single of his own to right field to bring in Maddox. It was the first of three hits on the night for the Bees first baseman.
One batter later, Walton’s sac fly allowed Bierfeldt to score, giving the outfielder his first RBI of the season.
But New Britain’s bats were not done quite yet and went back to work in the sixth, where they provided four more runs, with Griffin and Walton jumpstarting the inning.
Following Griffin’s leadoff single off Tyler Wilson, Walton tripled off the right-field fence to give the Bees a little bit of breathing room.
And just as it looked Walton would be left stranded on third after Jake McGuiggan and Steve Carrillo struck out on back-to-back at-bats, Jim Fuller then took over for Wilson and immediately walked James Skelton to send Crouse to the plate.
The first pitch New Britain’s center fielder saw, he hit off the right-field fence to score Walton and Skelton and strolled into third base. A double by Jovan Rosa three pitches later brought home Crouse. Rosa, however, would be replaced by Michael Baca at second base due to an injury.
But the damage was done and the Bees never looked back.
In total, New Britain collected 10 hits to the Ducks’ four. All 10 hits came from the Bees two through seven hitters who went a combined 10-for-23.
Brandon Fry replaced Simon in the sixth and had little difficulty other than surrendering a base hit. Brandon Shimo then took over for the left-hander in the seventh and followed up with two shutout innings of his own.
Newington native Mike Hepple came in to close out the game in the ninth. He did run into a little trouble, interchanging the first two outs with walks, but struck out Giovanny Alfonzo to end the game.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovac