Lara leading Bees' small ball approach midway through the season

Published on Friday, 1 July 2022 15:58
Written by Cameron Beall


NEW BRITAIN – The New Britain Bees felt good about their scouting report and what they thought the Brockton Rox were going to throw at them in their third meeting in two days and fourth time over the last week. A pair of big innings put the Bees in firm control of the game on Wednesday, but their confidence starts at the top from their leadoff hitter, Joel Lara.

“We faced [Marshall Whitmer] last week, so we had a pretty good feeling about what he was going to throw and what he was going to come at us with,” said Lara. “We used what we remembered from last week to try and stay ahead in counts which created all the big hits that we had.”

Bees manager Donnie McKillop made light of their subpar weekend against the Vermont Lake Monsters before mentioning how impressed he’s been with his team’s ability to leave bad performances in the past.

“We were close to sweeping them and that’s such a good bounce back,” said McKillop after the Bees were just a few feet shy of taking a late lead against the Rox in the second leg of Tuesday’s double-header. “Our guys have some really good short-term memory. They’re just attacking baseball one at bat and one pitch at a time.”

The Bees’ “one pitch at a time” approach worked seamlessly on Wednesday as they were able to post 11 runs with only three extra base hits. Small ball has become their identity with prime examples coming in the second and sixth innings of the win. 

In the second inning New Britain tallied four singles and a walk before Lara tagged a ball deep into the gap for a triple to break across their fourth run of the inning.

The sixth followed a similar script with 11 batters coming to the plate and six runs coming across in the frame. Seven of the first eight batters reached base by way of a single or walk before Tyler Pettorini squared a double to score two. 

Lara seems to be leading from the front as the team’s best offensive player. He’s been going with an approach the team has been able to emulate during this stretch.

“I’m trying to keep it simple,” said Lara. “I’m not trying to do too much with it right now. I took a couple big hacks tonight, but I told myself to stay disciplined and to stay calm. At the end of the day, you can’t play this game with too much pressure.”

The team has been able to pair their ability to string hits together with their speed on the basepaths. Both Brockton pitchers were visibly uncomfortable on Wednesday with runners on base. There were multiple points when the Rox threw over to the runner on first base four times in a row. McKillop loves to watch his guys work on the basepaths simply stating, “It’s just awesome – we fly.”

There’s nobody in the FCBL who applies more pressure on pitchers when on the bases than Lara. He added one of his team’s three steals on Wednesday – his 27th on the year. The speedster has only been caught twice this season and he doesn’t see any reason why he’d be in danger of that happening again anytime soon.

“I have so much trust in my legs that I’ll be able to get to the bag,” said Lara. “I’m getting good reads and I’ll do anything possible to try and swipe the bag.”

The Bees will look to play small ball all the way up the standings in the second half of their season. They’re back home for two this weekend against the Rox on Saturday and the Worcester Bravehearts on Sunday.

Posted in The Bristol Press, New Britain Bees on Friday, 1 July 2022 15:58. Updated: Friday, 1 July 2022 16:00.