By BRIAN JENNINGS
Southington’s first loss of the season was bookended by a pair of wins, but Blue Knight baseball coach Charlie Lembo said that it might have been a needed wake-up call for his team. Lembo said that he has challenged every area of the field to improve one game at a time.
“It showed us, as a coaching staff, and the players that we have a lot of things to work on,” the coach said. “We have to have a better approach at the plate and need to get more base runners. Defensively, we’re playing fine right now.”
The Knights will be back on the diamond this week with games against New Britain (4-1), Hall (2-0), and Greenwich (1-4). Southington is currently 3-1 overall.
Win vs. EO Smith
APRIL 10—The Knights started the week by recording their first shutout of the season after blanking EO Smith, 7-0, in their home opener. Still, Lembo said he was worried once Southington pulled ahead 3-0 and began leaving guys on base in scoring position.
“We let them hang around,” said the coach. “It was a good team win, but I just wished that we could have kept hitting throughout instead of taking a few innings off with the bats.”
The Knights began the game with three runs in the first inning and capped off the win by scattering four more runs from the fourth through sixth. Southington outhit EO Smith, 6-3.
Jonathan Gray went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a double, and a stolen base. Gray was also hit by a pitch. Jake Babon went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, a double, and a walk.
Brandon Kohl’s (2 runs scored) lone hit of the game came on his first homerun of the season with a two-run shot in the fifth. Tyler Cyr, John Mikosz, and Brayden Cooney each contributed with runs scored.
Ryan Sheehan started on the mound and picked up the win after going five and two-thirds with five strikeouts, allowing three walks and a hit. Bailey Robarge came in relief of Sheehan to close out the game with two strikeouts and two hits, but Lembo said he may have pulled his starter too quickly.
“He was around 56 pitches at that point, but I didn’t realize that he had a no-hitter,” said Lembo. “I can’t ever remember not knowing when a no-hitter was being pitched.”
Loss at Tolland
APRIL 12—A couple days later, the Knights suffered their first loss of season after falling, 5-2, at Tolland. The Knights finished the game with just four hits and managed just two hits after the first inning.
“I thought their pitcher did a good job of mixing up his pitches,” said Lembo. “I don’t think we got off the bus ready to play because the intensity level wasn’t there. It was kind of a wake-up call.”
Cooney (2-for-3) gave the Knights a 2-0 lead with a two-run homerun that scored Gray in the opening inning. But the Knights wouldn’t score again.
The Eagles cut the deficit to one with a run in the bottom of the inning and later knotted the score at 2-2 with a run in the third. A three-run homerun in the fifth eventually sealed the win for the Eagles.
Jeremy Mercier started on the mound and went four and one-third innings with five strikeouts, allowing six walks, six hits, and four earned runs. Connor McDonough relieved Mercier to close out the game with a pair of strikeouts and a walk.
Win at Notre Dame-WH
APRIL 15—The Knights bounced back on Saturday, earning their third win on the year with a 1-0 win over Notre Dame-West Haven. The Knights mustered just five hits, and neither team committed an error.
Both pitchers threw a no-hitter to the fifth inning. With one out in the top of the inning, Mercier broke up Notre Dame’s no-hitter with a double. Dan Topper came into the game to pinch run for Mercier and scored the game-winning run on a base hit by Matt Sciota (2-for-3) on the next at-bat.
“As the game unfolded, I knew that it was going to come down to one big hit or play, and it did,” said Lembo. “They had a play where they kind of missed their relay guy. That bought us just enough time to score Dan from second on a close play at the plate.”
In the bottom of the inning with two outs and a runner on first, the Green Knights got their first and only hit of the game on a double to the left-center gap. Kohl recovered the ball and threw it to the shortstop and relay, Gray, who then fired a strike to the plate. Gray’s throw to the plate forced the Green Knights to hold their runner at third.
“Basically, similar plays were the difference in that game,” the coach said. “We made the play, they didn’t.”
Mikosz pitched a complete game shutout with seven strikeouts, allowing just three walks and one hit.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/04/18/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-april-21-edition/). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.