By BRIAN JENNINGS
Davis Strong hit one, deep to right field. Racing back, Willie Allen couldn’t get it. It bounced to the wall. One run in. Two runs in. Strong, on the second pitch, added to the Blues lead making it 6-0 in the top of the seventh.
The Bristol Blues (21-12) picked up right where they left off when they started the week with an 8-2 win over the Worcester Bravehearts (12-20) at Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass. on Tuesday night, July 7. The Blues built on their first-place lead by grabbing five wins out of seven games.
Runs wouldn’t come until the sixth inning for the Blues against the Bravehearts. Davis Strong started the Blues with a single to center field that scored Christian Whigham. With two outs in the same inning, Gerrad Rohan drove in Strong with a double to left field to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
In the next inning, The Blues would put up six more runs off of RBIs from Christian Budzik, Tyler Roberts, Strong, and Rohan. George Lund (1-1) went five innings and picked up the win with six strikeouts, allowing three walks and two hits.
The next day, the Blues returned home to host a double header against the Torrington Titans (14-17). The Blues won the first game, 3-1. The game was shortened to seven innings, due to the doubleheader. Rohan got things going for the Blues in the fourth, scoring Zach Scott and Strong on a base hit.
Ryan Rinsky added insurance by driving in Rohan on a double in the sixth. Dominic LoBrutto (3-0) went five innings in the win with a strikeout, allowing four hits, a run, and a walk. Robert Paccione (S, 6) got the save by getting the last two outs of the game.
Game two would feature a closer contest.
The Blues struck first with a run in the first inning after Strong scored on a wild pitch. The Titans tied the game with a run in the third, but Jamie Timothy put the Blues back in front, 2-1, when he scored on an error by the left fielder after getting on base with a double.
The Titans answered with a run in the fifth and ninth to take a 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, an error by the right fielder scored Tyler Packanik to send the game into extra innings.
In the tenth, Liam Scafariello knocked in Strong on a walk off single to give the Blues a 4-3 win. Strong went 3-for-4 with two runs and a walk. Steve Wallace (1-2) was credited with the win by getting the last five outs of the game, throwing four strikeouts and allowing one hit.
Thursday night’s 6-0 win over the North Shore Navigators (19-14) was a record-setting game for the Blues. Troy Terzi (2-2) became the first Blue to pitch a complete game, no-hitter, throwing six strikeouts and allowing two hits.
The shutout capped a 21 innings streak over three games where Terzi hasn’t allowed a run.
“It’s awesome,” said Terzi. “I’m just glad that we got the win. It was a good team effort. Everyone hit and the timely hitting was good. I was able to locate my fastball and my slider was good throughout the game. I only threw my changeup like four or five times. I didn’t have to throw my curveball at all. It was fun not having to throw all of my pitches and still be as effective as I was.”
Blues manager Barry Lyons said that Terzi has been superb every time out to the mound thus far on the season.
“I love him,” said Lyons. “I think the world of him. He was going to complete that shutout come hell or high water. I wasn’t taking him out. There is a pitch count here and certainly I want to abide by the rules, but sometimes there are exceptions and fortunately, we didn’t have to go there. He has been phenomenal. As I told the guys, he keeps it simple. He works fast, throws strikes, changes location, gets ahead of hitters, and finishes them off.”
Austin Chauvin went 3-for-4 in the game with a run. The win capped off a six-game winning streak, which is currently the Blues’ longest winning streak on the season, after coming off of a four-game winning streak a couple weeks prior.
The Blues’ win streak was snapped the next night at home in a 6-5 loss to the Brockton Rox (18-13).
Coming back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game with a run in the fourth and two in the sixth, the Blues took a 5-3 lead in the seventh with two outs after a RBI double from Rohan that scored Timothy and Strong. However, the Rox put up three runs in the next inning to take the game.
Rohan went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI, a run, a triple, and a double. Roberts went 3-for-4 with a double.
Tim Cate went five innings with eight strikeouts, allowing four hits, three earned runs, and two walks. Paccione (1-1) was given the loss after coming in to get the last two outs of the eighth inning, tossing a strikeout, and allowing two hits and an earned run.
Nashua edges Blues
The Blues suffered their second loss of the week when they traveled up to Holman Stadium in Nashua, N.H. on Saturday night and were defeated by the Nashua Silver Knights (15-16), 8-6. The Blues surrendered a 4-1 lead after the third inning and never got it back.
The Silver Knights posted a run in the fifth and four in the sixth to take a 6-4 lead. The Silver Knights added a couple more in the eighth and the Blues’ two runs in the ninth wouldn’t be enough.
Roberts went 3-for-4 with a RBI, a run, and a double. Budzik had two hits and two RBIs, including a sacrifice hit. Ryan Lauria went four innings with two strikeouts, allowing six hits, and earned run, and a walk.
Dillon Burke (1-3) was given the loss after getting an out in the sixth, throwing a strikeout, and allowing three runs (two earned) and two walks.
The Blues got back on track the next night with a 5-4 win at home against the Navigators.
The Blues put up all five of their runs in the first inning off of RBIs from Budzik (single), Strong (single), Ryan Costello (double), and Scafariello. Lund (2-1) picked up the win after going five innings with eight strikeouts, allowing five hits, four walks, and two earned runs. Paccione (S, 7) got the save after coming in to get the last five outs of the game, allowing just two hits and an earned run.
The Blues remain in first place of the West Division, five and a half games in front of the Pittsfield Suns (14-16) in second place.
“The last couple of nights, we’ve had some tough losses,” said Lyons. “A lot of it was attributable to walks and pitchers not getting the job done, but it’s hard to get too upset with them because they’ve been strong all year. Overall, we’ve swung the bats a lot better in the last two weeks. We’ve played a lot better baseball. The stretch run is coming up to the final four weeks of the season and I would say that we are all, but assured a playoff spot, since eight out of 10 teams go. We don’t want just a playoff spot. We want have the home games and the best record. We want to win our division and we have a lot of goals that are ahead of us that we want to achieve. To be 21-12 at this point in the season, I’m very pleased with that.”
NOTES: The fourth annual Futures Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21 at Fraser Field in Lynn, Mass. The selection of the East and West Division Rosters is due to take place on Friday, July 17 and there are talks that the process will be streamed live.
Rohan and Strong have been batting leaders for the Blues throughout the season and are candidates to make the West Division All-Star roster. Rohan is second (.336) in the league in batting average and eighth (18) in RBIs. Strong is third (.327) in the league in batting average and seventh (19) in RBIs. Chauvin (.324) is sixth in the league in batting average and is another heavy hitter for the Blues.
Some of the Blues’ pitching rotation will be noted as candidates as well. Cate is tied for second in the league in wins (4) and strikeouts (36). Terzi is tied for sixth in the league in strikeouts (33) and is third in ERA (1.59). Lund is right behind in fourth in ERA (1.69). Ty Robinson (31) is tied for ninth in strikeouts in the league and Kyle Dube (2.65) is ninth in ERA. Paccione (1.37) holds the Blues’ lowest ERA through 19.2 innings pitched in 14 games.