By BRIAN JENNINGS
After opening their second season as a franchise with a 4-0 record, the Bristol Blues…
At Torrington Titans (Tuesday, June 7)
The Blues suffered their first loss of the season in Torrington on Tuesday after falling to the Titans, 3-1.
The Titans took a 1-0 lead with a run off of a sacrifice fly, but the Blues tied the game in the fifth when Frankie Gregoire drove in Tyler Roberts on a fielder’s choice. However, the Titans put up two more runs in the sixth and never looked back.
Roberts went 3-for-4 with a triple. Gregoire went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles.
John Mormile started on the mound for the Blues and went six innings with five strikeouts, five hits, an earned run, and a walk. Mike Kreiger and Adam Goss each threw an inning in relief.
Bristol outhit Torrington, 8-6, and committed an error.
At Worcester Bravehearts (Wednesday, June 8)
The next day, the Blues fell behind by four runs in the fifth inning at Worcester and couldn’t recover, falling to the Bravehearts, 6-3.
The Bravehearts capped off their victory by adding two more runs in the sixth. The Blues battled back with three runs in the ninth.
Logan Greene went 2-for-4. Hunter Southerland, Christian Cabrera, and Christian Budzik each batted in a run. Southerland, Zach Scott, and Chris Morris all scored a run.
Teddy Carey started on the mound for the Blues and went five innings with five strikeouts, seven hits, and two earned runs. Jacob Wallace relieved Carey to pitch a couple of innings, and Mike Munson closed out the game.
Worcester outhit Bristol, 9-6. Each team committed two errors.
Vs Nashua Silver Knights (Thursday, June 9)
The Blues dropped their third-straight game when their bats went cold after the second inning in a 5-2 loss to the Nashua Silver Knights at home on Thursday.
Budzik cut the deficit to a run in the second with a base hit that scored Morris. Nick Conti (2-for-4) tied the game at 2-2 when he scored Matt Iantosca on a fielder’s choice, but the Silver Knights scattered runs throughout the rest of the contest to secure the win.
Artavious Marsh started on the mound for the Blues and went four innings with three strikeouts, five walks, four hits, and three earned runs. Michael Nocera relieved Marsh to go two and two thirds innings with five strikeouts, two hits, two walks, and an earned run. Sebastian DiMauro pitched a third of an inning, and Paul Versteeg and Nick Silva each threw an inning.
Nashua outhit Bristol, 9-8.
Vs Worcester Bravehearts (Friday, June 10)
The Blues ended their three-game skid by edging out the Bravehearts by a run, 7-6, at home the next day.
The Blues took a 3-0 lead after four innings of play, but the Bravehearts gained a one-run advantage after posting four runs in the fifth.
However, the Blues regained the lead by adding four runs of their own in the seventh, including a triple from Scott that scored three runs.
The Bravehearts attempted to rally back in the ninth, but fell short with two runs.
Scott went 3-for-4, also with three doubles and a run scored.
Sam Spadafore started on the mound for the Blues and went five innings with a pair of strikeouts, seven hits, an earned run, and a walk. Versteeg was credited with the win after relieving Spadafore to go two innings. Munson closed out the game to get the save.
Worcester outhit Bristol, 8-6. The Blues committed three errors.
Vs Pittsfield Suns (Saturday, June 11)
Saturday’s home game brought another win to the Bristol ball club with the help of three runs in the seventh, giving the Blues a 5-1 victory over the Pittsfield Suns.
Greene went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Brandon Fox started on the mound for the Blues and picked up the win after going six innings with four strikeouts, four hits, two walks, and an earned run. Kreiger came in to get the save.
Bristol outhit Pittsfield 7-5 and committed two errors.
At Brockton Rox (Sunday, June 12)
The Blues traveled to Massachusetts the next day to wrap up the week against the Brockton Rox, but fell short in extra innings, 3-2, suffering their fourth loss on the year.
Scott drove in Greene on a sacrifice fly to put the first run of the game on the board in the first, and Cabrera gave the Blues a 2-0 lead by scoring Conti on a RBI double.
The Rox tied the game with two runs in the ninth off of a double and a base hit, sending the contest into extra innings. However, it only took one inning, as the Rox walked off with the win after stealing home plate on an error committed by the catcher with two outs in the 10th.
Conti went 2-for-5 with a double.
Izzy Fuentes started on the mound for the Blues and went eight innings with seven strikeouts and three hits. Silva relieved Fuentes to throw an inning, and DiMauro got the last two outs.
Starting the season off with four wins and then dropping the next three games is just what Bristol Blues manager Pat Riley explains as just being the nature of baseball, sometimes in general.
“It’s an up-and-down game,” the coach said. “It’s just sticking with the process. We weren’t really getting timely hitting during that three-game skid, but for the past couple games we’ve gotten that. We came to the ballpark ready to play, competed well, and turned it around a little bit.”
As for Riley though, it’s a different look to the beginning of this season compared to the start of last season. Ex New York Met catcher, Barry Lyons, came in as the franchise’s first manager last year, until he was fired late in the regular season. Riley was the assistant under Lyons and filled that position, coaching the team to the championship series. He has held that position ever since.
“Last season was kind of a wild ride, obviously,” said Riley. “We had a really great team, but I was very excited to come back. I got my feet wet a little last year, in terms of that, but it’s a great opportunity for me, individually. This organization is great and I’m happy to be a part of it. It’s just a special thing here in Bristol, and it’s been good thus far.”
Last year’s championship series against the Bravehearts went to a third game for the first time in Futures Collegiate Baseball League history. Riley said that he took a lot away from being in the championship series in the team’s first season as a franchise.
“Being able to manage in that from my perspective was good experience,” the coach said. “They were really close games and I had to make decisions. There were big crowds and it was a fun experience for me. That definitely motivated me to come back and be a part of this again.”
The Blues have home games this week against the Marthas Vineyard Sharks (5-5), Wachusett Dirt Dawgs (5-5), and Rox (6-4), as well as road games at the Bravehearts (6-3), and Dirt Dawgs.