BRISTOL - Kenny Knox was dominant Thursday night at Muzzy Field.
The Bristol American Legion Baseball starter pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball as Post 2 picked up a 2-1 win against Avon Post 201, handing the Zone 1 leaders just their second loss of the season.
“I feel like I’m in much better playing shape than I was last year,” said Knox, a third-year Legion pitcher. “I have more movement on my off-speed pitches and my curveball has been better.”
The one run allowed by Knox was an RBI single in the first inning by Avon’s Chris Jacob to score Jake Coppen.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the next run would come in, as Knox was locked into a pitching duel with Avon starter Dylan Nastri.
Nastri allowed three hits to Bristol, a single to Noah Plantamuro and two singles to Mike Lemke.
Bristol didn’t cross home plate until the fifth inning, when Anthony Lozier came around to score on a throwing error to home by Avon first baseman Justin Olsen.
The second run was another miscue Bristol capitalized on.
In the sixth inning, Mac Goulet stole second base and then moved to third on a ground out by Jake Violette. With Ryan Greene at the plate, Goulet scored on a wild pitch by Mastri that got by catcher Jeremy Zarwanski to give Bristol the 2-1 lead.
To keep the deficit at one run, Bristol played strong defense.
Both Fradette and Plantamuro played strong defense up the middle for Bristol, making multiple plays in the game.
Fradette had an impressive defensive play on a hard-hit ball in the third inning. He looked back Avon’s Coppen to hold him at third base and threw out Zarwanski to record the second out. Coppen was left stranded after Jacobs popped out to Plantamuro.
“I’m really fortunate to have Noah [Plantamuro] at short and Cory Fradette at second,” Knox said. “They can both play shortstop because they’re both natural shortstops, I believe. That was a really nice play by Cory at second. He had to leave his feet and he made a nice throw to back it up, I really appreciate that. It was a huge play.”
Another big play came in the top of the fifth inning with Avon’s No. 4 hitter Zarwanski at bat.
Coach LaPenta called a pitchout and Bristol caught Coppen stealing second base to strand Miles Bornstein on third base.
“I was surprised he stole with his No. 4 batter up,” LaPenta said. “I called a pitchout and I know he was mad at himself, because I heard him yelling at himself. When you have the No. 4 guy up you got to let him swing.”
The win moves second-place Bristol to 11-4 in Zone 1 play and drops Avon to 15-2.
“That’s a big win for us,” LaPenta said. “Because even though we can’t catch them, now we have a two-game lead in the loss column for second place and if we win Sunday, we guarantee second place [and] a home game [in the state tournament].”
Bristol has four zone games remaining, including a key doubleheader against third place Simsbury at Muzzy Field on Sunday afternoon, beginning at 1 p.m.