NEW BRITAIN - After falling behind by four runs early in the game, the Bees had to dig themselves out of a hole on Sunday afternoon.
With the bases loaded in the fourth inning and Jonathan Griffin at the plate, the opportunity to do so was there.
Just looking to put the ball in play, Griffin launched a grand slam that also scored Michael Crouse, Jovan Rosa and Craig Maddox and sparked the Bees’ offense in an 8-7 victory over the first place Long Island Ducks.
“I was trying not to do too much,” Griffin said. “They’ve been going slow away and hard in on me, so I was ready for the fastball after they went slow away on me and it was in.”
Long Island scored single runs in the first and second innings before Marc Krauss delivered a two-run homer in the third for the early 4-0 lead.
After Griffin’s slam gave the Bees a 5-4 lead, coming after an RBI single by Maddox had given the Bees their first run of the game, the Ducks regained their lead in the top of the fifth inning as four base hits allowed them to score two runs.
The 6-5 deficit for New Britain did not last long, as Crouse and Rosa drove in two runs for the Bees to regain the lead in the bottom half of the fifth.
“We have the guys in the middle of the order that are more than capable of getting the job done. It’s just a matter of doing it,” Rosa said.
It was a wild pitch that scored former Bee Jordan Hinshaw to tie the game at 7 in the sixth inning.
In the eighth inning, with the game still tied, it was another wild pitch that produced the final run, as pinch runner Jake McGuiggan came in for Rosa and scored with Griffin at the plate.
With the lead in the ninth inning, Windham native Shawn Gilblair came on to close the door and did just that.
Gilblair has been strong in the ninth inning of late, recording four consecutive saves for the Bees. He struck out a pair of Ducks batters in his inning.
The top four hitters for the Bees played a crucial role in the win. Crouse, Rosa and Maddox each had multi-hit performances in the contest.
Leadoff man Yusuke Kajimoto had a single in the game and scored two runs.
Crouse was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Rosa finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Maddox was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run.
“It’s just part of going out there and putting the ball in play. We did that out there today and if you do that, good things can happen. The big grand slam was a key by Griffin.”
That offense was much needed during a game in which starter Jonathan Pettibone struggled. After going seven strong innings in his previous two starts, Pettibone couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning.
“He went out there and battled,” Bees manager Stan Cliburn said. “He just didn’t have his pop like he’s had in the past. I didn’t see the explosiveness in his fastball like he’s had in his past three starts.”
As a team the Bees were outhit 13-9 in the contest.
New Britain will host the displaced Sugar Land Skeeters beginning Monday, with the remnants of hurricane Harvey not allowing them to play in Texas.
Still with an outside chance at making the playoffs, every remaining game for the Bees is crucial.
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Rosa said. “When you have a group of guys with nothing to lose, that’s dangerous for other teams.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at or On Twitter: @OrencoleDan