NEW BRITAIN - On a night that was all about the pitchers, one pitch from Brandon League turned out to be the difference for the New Britain Bees.
It was just not as they had hoped.
On the fifth pitch of his sequence against Lancaster Barnstormer outfielder Cole Garner, League (0-1) bounced a ball in the dirt that skirted over the left batter’s box and just out of the reach of catcher James Skelton, allowing Rico Noel to score.
The run turned out to be the difference in a tight game as the Bees fell 2-1 to the Barnstormers Monday.
For much of the night, New Britain and Lancaster found themselves locked in a classic pitcher’s duel between starters Jonathan Pettibone and Tommy Shirely with the bullpen picking up where they left off in the later innings.
Pettibone tossed one-run ball over five solid innings of work for the Bees. The run was unearned. He also struck out three and walked three.
It was the right-hander’s best outing in over a month when he threw six innings and gave up one run to the Sugar Land Skeeters back on June 21. Monday’s start was eighth time this season Pettibone had gone long enough to qualify for the win and second straight outing of giving up no earned runs.
Tommy Shirley, meanwhile, tossed five shutout innings for Lancaster and gave up just three hits. He also struck out four and walked just two.
Both starters came away with a no decision. Neither team was able to do much at the plate, with both combining for just 12 hits and 17 strikeouts. Only four Bees players had hits, Jovan Rosa, Skelton, Craig Maddox and Michael Baca. Rosa had two singles.
The Barnstormers struck first in the fifth with an RBI single from Beau Amaral to score Nate Coronado, who had moved to third after a throwing error from Skelton during a steal attempt of second base.
New Britain answered with a run of its own in the sixth inning when Jonathan Griffin drew a bases-loaded walk off Kevin Munson with one out. But the Bees missed an opportunity to break the game open. Both Jamar Walton and Baca struck out swinging on back-to-back at-bats to end the inning.
New Britain’s inability to produce with runners in scoring position turned out to be a theme for the night. As a team, the Bees went a collective 0-for-6 at the plate with runners in scoring position, leaving six on either second or third base.
Mike Hepple replaced Pettibone in the sixth and pitched a scoreless inning. Brandon Shimo followed, delivering a perfect seventh. Roe had a 1-2-3 ninth to give the Bees a chance to tie the game in their final at-bat of the game.
But like it did for most of the night, New Britain was retired in order as Skelton stuck out, Yusuke Kajimoto lined out to Noel at second base and Rosa ending it with another strikeout.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach