By MICHAEL LETENDRE
Did a little rest bit do the Bristol Blues of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League any good in the middle of July?
The Blues had a majority of the week off as the squad was not in action from Monday, July 9 through Wednesday, July 11.
But on Thursday, July 12, Bristol got back to the pay window – moving to 20-16 overall with a 5-3 win against the Pittsfield Suns from Wahconah Park in front of 1,011 paying fans.
It was the third straight victory for the Blues.
This time around, Bristol bullpen ace Neal McDermott wasn’t allowed to save the game because he came on in the ninth with the squads deadlocked in a 2-2 tie.
The Blues then pushed three runs across in the tenth frame as the visiting outfit rolled up a 5-2 lead over the extra inning.
And those three runs came off only one hit.
Setting up the tenth, Bristol’s Alex Baumann singled to right while Ian Ostberg and Alex Loparco walked to load things up.
Theodore Hague then sent a sacrifice fly to center as Baumann scored to make it a 3-2 contest.
Ostberg and Loparco later scored on wild pitches to cement the three run edge.
Pittsfield got one run back in the bottom of the tilt but it didn’t matter as Bristol won the contest by two.
McDermott went two innings, giving up one hit, one run, one walk while posting four strikeouts.
The win saw McDermott move his ERA to 1.47 on the campaign, earning his first win with the Blues this season.
Bristol’s Michael DeLease (6 IP, 5 H, 2 K) had a strong performance but did not factor into the decision.
Loparco went 2-for-4 on the night with a run and an RBI.
However, the following evening, the Blues traveled to Fraser Field to battle the North Shore Navigators – falling 6-2 on July 13.
Emmet Sheehan (4 IP, 3 ER, 7 K) drew the loss for Bristol as the Navigators zipped up a 3-0 push through two innings.
The team scored three runs in the fifth to ring up a 6-0 cushion that was never threatened.
Loparco went 3-of-5 while Ostberg was 2-of-5 with a double to lead Bristol from the dish.
A crowd of 2,763 fans saw the Navigators move to 14-22 on the season.
And just this past Friday, the FCBL announced its All-star game roster and five players from Bristol will be on that team.
Ian Ostberg, Patrick Winkel, Emmet Sheehan, Richard Brereton and closer Neal McDermott will represent the Blues in the midseason classic.
Saturday, July 14 saw Bristol ramp up a 5-3 victory over North Shore in a seven inning challenge during game one of a doubleheader from Fraser Field.
Back to its old formula, the Blues went to starter Jake Regula (6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 K) and closed with McDermott (3 Ks) to take the two run win.
The Blues zipped up seven hits as Dylan Reynolds went 2-of-3 from the dish with a walk, a double and two runs scored.
Ostberg went 1-of-3 with a walk while stealing his 16th base of the year.
Bristol led 2-1 after two completed frames and through three, it was a 3-2 contest that the Blues were still in charge of.
After scoring two additional runs in the fifth, Bristol took a 5-2 edge into the sixth inning that was never challenged again.
In game two, Bristol swept the night with a 2-1 victory over the Navigators.
The home team led 1-0 after one inning of play but from there, Bristol’s Michael Genaro (7 K, 4 H, no walks) was nearly untouchable on the mound.
The Blues zipped up five hits on the night as Matthew Bonvicini was 2-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
Bristol did all of its scoring in the fourth frame – adding two runs to the board – to turn a one run deficit into a one run edge.
In the top of the fourth, Alex Loparco and Patrick Winkel put up back-to-back hits with one out as the tying and winning runners were onboard for the Blues.
Loparco scored on a wild pitch to make it a 1-1 game and Bonvicini’s RBI single plated Winkel as the game-winning hit ended the suspense.
And the road trip continued on Sunday, July 15, when Bristol invaded Wahconah Park for a contest against the Pittsfield Suns.
In this one, Bristol led by two, lost that edge and then notched two runs in the top of the eighth to secure a 4-2 win in front of 709 fans.
The loss dropped Pittsfield to 15-22 on the season.
In the eighth, Baumann singled to center and was sacrificed to second.
And when Ostberg and Loparco each drew base-on-balls, the bases were loaded.
An error plated a run and for insurance, Reynolds’ sacrifice fly scored Baumann to put the Blues ahead by two for good.
Zachery Dionne (2 IP, no hits) was the winner for Bristol in relief while Kyle Haag (2 IP, one hit) saved it for the visitors.
Ostberg had two hits and scored three times while Reynolds was 1-for-2 with a walk and two RBI.
As of last Sunday, Martha’s Vineyard was in first place in the FCBL with a 25-111 ledger while Worcester was 2.5 games behind the top pace (23-14).
Bristol – winners of three straight games – was only four games out of first in third place while the Brockton Rox were in fourth – hanging in at 19-19 (seven games out).