Bristol Blues are zeroing in on a division title

Southington slugger Liam Scafariello connects with a pitch during a recent Bristol Blues home game.

Southington slugger Liam Scafariello connects with a pitch during a recent Bristol Blues home game.

With three more wins in six chances last week, the Bristol Blues are closing in on their regular season goal. The locals are only 5-5 over their last 10 games, but with seven games remaining the Blues (28-21) are enjoying at 4.5 game lead in the FCBL West Division standings.

As the schedule hurtles toward the Aug. 9 finale, the Blues are in control of their own destiny in the inaugural season of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England.

Win over Wachusett

The Blues opened the week with a 2-0 shutout at home over the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs (21-25) on Tuesday night, July 28, and the locals scored the only runs of the game during a two-run rally in the second inning.

With one out, Ryan Costello got on base with a walk, followed by a base hit from Ryan Rinsky. Liam Scafariello got to first on a base hit, but then took off for second after the left fielder failed to make the catch. Costello and Rinsky came around to score the only two runs for the Blues in the game.

The Blues totaled four hits in the game. Kyle Dube (3-0) started the game on the mound and grabbed the win, going eight innings with a strikeout and allowing four hits.

“I was really effective with my pitches, getting a lot of ground and fly balls early in counts” said Dube. “I was really attacking with my fastball. The defense behind me was what really helped me have some quick innings and have a good game. I think I’ve been pretty consistent all season and that’s what I strive for as a pitcher. I want to go out every time and give us a chance to win. I’m definitely looking forward to finishing the year strong.”

Ty Robinson (S, 6) earned the save after pitching two strikeouts over the last three outs of the game.

Extra inning loss

The Blues faced extra innings at home the next night, as they pushed the Torrington Titans (22-24) to 10 innings but couldn’t come away with the win. With a go ahead run in the top of the 10th inning, Torrington rallied to a 3-2 win.

The Titans struck first with a run in the first inning, but the Blues took a 2-1 lead after the fourth.

With two men on, Davis Strong knocked in Griffin Garabedian on a base hit. Later in the same inning with two outs and two men on, Rinsky advanced to first on an error made by the third baseman, scoring Strong.

The Titans had the final say in the game with a run in the fifth to send the game into extra innings and a run in the 10th to win it.

The Blues only accounted for three hits in the game. Strong had two of the Blues’ three hits. Dominic LoBrutto went started the game on the mound, going four and two thirds innings with two strikeouts and allowing five hits and two runs.

Riley Streit (1-3) was given the loss after going three and one third innings with three strikeouts, allowing three hits, an earned run, and a walk.

Heartbreaker

The Blues fell short by a run at home again on Thursday night, this time to the Worcester Bravehearts (21-29) in a defensive battle. Bristol’s only lapse came in the third inning with a two-run Braveheart rally that would clinch the 2-1 decision.

Strong drove in Jamie Timothy in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to one run, but Timothy and Tyler Roberts had the Blues’ only two hits in the game.

Troy Terzi (3-4) was given the loss after starting the game on the mound and going five innings with four strikeouts, allowing six hits and earned runs.

Three game skid

The next night, the Blues suffered a second straight loss to the Bravehearts, 7-4, which was their third straight loss of the week.

The Bravehearts scored first with a run in the opening fram, but the Blues responded with two runs in the top of the fourth to take a 2-1 lead with a wild pitch that scored Scafariello and a single to center field by Tyler Packanik that scored Dylan Morris.

However, the Bravehearts answered with six runs in the bottom of the inning and wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game. The Blues made a final effort with a solo homerun from Scafariello in the eighth and a scored a run by Garabedian in the ninth, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Scafariello went 3-for-4 with two doubles, and Garabedian went 2-for-4 with a triple and a walk. Ryan Lauria (0-2) started the game on mound and was given the loss after going three innings with two strikeouts, allowing five earned runs, three walks, and a hit.

Steve Wallace went four innings with three strikeouts, allowing four walks, two earned runs, and a hit.

Liam snaps the skid

The Blues got out of the slump on Saturday night when they returned home to a 3-1 triumph over the Nashua Silver Knights (25-25).

The Silver Knights landed the first punch with a run in the first inning, but that would be the only punch they would land in the game.

The Blues tied the game up at 1-1 with a run in the fifth off of a sacrifice fly to right field by Garabedian that scored Packanik, and the turning point of the game came when Scafariello scored Strong on an RBI double that curled right over third base to the wall in the sixth. Scafariello had two of the Blues’ three hits in the game.

“It was pretty solid,” said Scafariello. “I think I did a successful job of keeping my hands back when they were pitching fast. I drove in a couple runs to try and help the team out.”

Scafariello had a rough start to the season and credits his recent success to the time he has spent away from the team during the all-star break.

“I have more confidence now, said Scafariello. “I took some time off, came back, and now I feel better about myself. Knowing where I’m going to school also helps.”

Scafariello plans to attend San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas.

“He’s a lot more relaxed and a lot more aggressive,” said Blues manager Barry Lyons. “He’s had two, incredibly good nights back to back. I’m hopeful that that’s going to be his mode of operation for the remainder of the season. His confidence was way down, but we gave him an extended break over the all-star game. We’ve been encouraging him and working with him, getting him to be more aggressive. Right now, the light is definitely on and he has a ton of confidence swinging the bat like the big man he is. It’s good to see.”

Christian Whigham sealed the deal by scoring on a wild pitch in the seventh. George Lund started the game on the mound and went five and two thirds innings with five strikeouts, allowing five walks, four hits, and an earned run. Robinson (2-1) picked up the win after going two and one third innings with a strikeout, allowing just two walks. Paccione got his 10th save of the season, getting the last three outs of the game and not allowing anything.

“We had great pitching,” said Lyons. “We had a hit-and-run that we executed well. There were a couple of breaks on a wild pitch and passed ball. There were a couple of errors on their part that certainly helped us. It was a good, clean game for us defensively and pitching-wise. We hit some balls hard. Garabedian hit three balls on the nose tonight and has been swinging the bat better. His average doesn’t show for the season that well, but for the last month, he’s played extremely well and his confidence is up.”

Some of the Blues’ players have cooled down from their hot streaks or have faced injuries since the all-star break, but Lyons said that the team is in good shape.

“Strong has continued to be our main guy, even though he’s hit into a little tough luck lately,” the Blues manager said. “Rohan missing a week with his rib injury has slowed him a little bit, but it’s going to be good to get him back swinging. Whigham swung the bat good tonight and Roberts has chipped in since he’s been our everyday shortstop.”

Rocking the Rox

The Blues carried the momentum into Sunday’s game at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Mass., exploding for 12 runs during a 12-4 win over the East Division’s top team, Brockton Rox (31-19).

The teams battled to a 3-3 deadlock after two innings, but the Rox took the lead in the top of the third. Then, the Blues just took it from there. Two runs in the seventh, four in the eighth, and three in the ninth put the game to bed and was the first time the Blues had scored double digits to win a game all season.

Roberts went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Gerrad Rohan went 3-for-6 with four RBIs and a run. Rohan, Scafariello, Rinsky, and newly acquired Willy Yahn all hit a double in the game. Roberts also had a double and a triple as well, just lacking a homerun to hit for the cycle.

Tim Cate started the game on the mound and went two and two thirds innings with three strikeouts, allowing five hits, five walks, and two earned runs. It was Streit (2-3) who was credited with the win after he went two and a third innings with three strikeouts, allowing just a hit.

The Blues only two remaining home games are Wednesday, August 4 against the Seacoast Mavericks (15-35) and Sunday, August 9 against the Bravehearts, which is their regular season finale. Other games feature two road matchups against the Titans and three against the Pittsfield Suns (22-26).

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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