Pitchers have been dominant for first-place Bristol American Legion baseball

Published on Friday, 5 July 2019 18:14


BRISTOL - Bristol pitchers have been dominant this summer for the city’s 19U American Legion baseball team. 

During the team’s seven-game winning streak that ended last weekend, and its current run of nine victories in the last 10 games, it has been a strong contingent of starters and relievers that in 15 games has allowed the fewest amount of runs (19) in Zone 1, with the next-closest team (Southington) allowing 37 runs. 

The club’s staff of Alex Balfour, Cory Fradette, Noah Plantamuro, Josh Nohilly, Nick Ruffino, Jagger Duquette, Stephen Warkoski and Trevor Mays has vaulted Bristol (12-3) to the top of the Zone 1 Northern Division standings. 

“We’ve just done a really good job limiting our opponents’ opportunities to score,” Bristol head coach Jerry LaPenta said. “We haven’t walked that many guys, which is a huge key, and offensively we’ve gotten a lot of big two-out hits with guys in scoring position. We’re not winning our games 10-8. We’re winning a lot of 3-1 or 4-2 games.”

While the offense has scored the fifth-most runs in the league (60), the pitching has remained the core factor in Bristol capturing three-game series victories over two of the top teams in the zone, Berlin and Southington, last summer’s state champion. 

After his team suffered a tough 4-3 loss to Berlin on June 17, LaPenta was far from angry. Instead, he focused on letting go of the loss and looking at what he believes is always the much more imporant season series, and that’s what his team did with 2-0 and 2-1 victories over Berlin. 

Both victories were led by the right-hander Mays, who threw a complete-game three-hit shutout on 76 pitches in the first win and fired eight innings of three-hit ball in the second game on 93 pitches, allowing one run in the top of the seventh before his team won via walk-off in extras. 

In a 6-2 win over Southington last Saturday, which preceded a 4-2 loss in game two of a doubleheader, Duquette threw 6⅔ innings, allowing two runs on 104 pitches, and Plantamuro came on for a two-pitch save.

In the series rubber match on Monday, Balfour (5⅓ innings), Fradette and Plantamuro combined to allow just one run in a 3-1 victory. 

“It’s huge,” LaPenta said of the pitching. “It gives everybody a lot of confidence.”

With nine zone games left on the schedule following a 7-1 victory over Winsted Post 43 on Thursday, Bristol is past the halfway point of the season as it heads toward the final stretch of the regular season and the postseason tournament (beginning July 22) and looking to capture the Zone 1 regular season and tournament championships. 

“All of our goals are still within reach,” LaPenta said. “The kids have really come together. The games have been really exciting, competitive games. I know the fans have really enjoyed them and I’ve enjoyed coaching them. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”

Along with Berlin and Southington, LaPenta said Simsbury and West Hartford are also two of the most talented in the zone. Bristol is 1-0 against Simsbury and 1-1 against West Hartford. 

Bristol faces West Hartford on Tuesday (7 p.m. at Muzzy Field) in the series rubber match and plays Simsbury on Wednesday (5:45 p.m. at Muzzy) and Friday (5:30 p.m. at Memorial Field in Simsbury). 

“We still have some business to take care of with them to win those series,” LaPenta said. “I’m pretty confident we’ll have a pretty good chance to do that. If we do that, we’ll be in a pretty good place going into the last week or so of the season.”

Bristol now heads into a three-game series against Newington (4-11) that begins with a Sunday doubleheader and the finale on Monday. 

“They’re not having a great season just based on their record, but I don’t really take anybody for granted,” LaPenta said. “We wanna win that first game so that’ll take the pressure off. The first game’s huge. You wanna get off to a good start.”

Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or zcarpenter@bristolpress.com

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, General Sports, St. Paul on Friday, 5 July 2019 18:14. Updated: Friday, 5 July 2019 18:17.