By KEN MORSE
The Bristol Blues bats erupted in front of a packed house at Muzzy Field last Thursday in the final home game of the regular season resulting in an 11-5 thrashing of the Pittsfield Sun.
It marked just the third time this season that the Blues tacked on double digits in run production and all three contests came in the friendly confines of their 100 year old ball park.
One of the largest crowds of the season, 1,549 fans were in attendance on Pink Night and Host Family Appreciation Day as the Blues helped to raise money in support of Bristol Hospital’s Beekley Center.
While the stands were filled with fans donning pink jerseys, the Blues bats remained red hot heading down the stretch of the season pounding out 11 hits. Catcher Bryce Ramsay led the way banging out four hits including two doubles. Dylan Reynolds had two hits, two runs scored, and drove in two runs.
Jim Sullivan had two RBI, two runs scored on one hit with Alex Loparco scoring three runs, and Justyn-Henry Malloy adding two runs scored.
Starting pitcher Jake Regula set the tone tossing two-hit shutout ball over the first six innings striking out five to pick up his second win of the season.
Bristol had been in a bit of an offensive slump putting up just 17 runs during a five game losing streak averaging just 3.5 runs per game. Over the last five games (4-1), the Blues have been red hot scoring 38 runs averaging 7.6 per game.
“When we throw strikes and play solid defense we can compete,” said Blues head coach Ronnie Palmer. “But when we swing the bats the way, we have recently we are a much different team and can put pressure on our opponents.”
Swinging the bats the way, they have can also open up opportunities to take advantage of mistakes, which is what Bristol did to get on the board in the second inning.
Ian Ostberg raced around the bases winding up at third base when his grounder in the infield was thrown away. Reynolds singled in the run and Malloy hit a hard groundout sending Loparco home with the second run of the inning.
Threatening skies delayed the start of the game when two torrential down pours blew through the town of Bristol. But by the start of the contest, the sun was out and shinning down on the throng of Blues fans in attendance.
When it rains it pours, as Pittsfield had to endure a couple of downpours of their own when the Blues put together back-to-back four run uprisings in the seventh and eighth innings that decided the ballgame.
The Suns had just closed the gap tallying two runs in the top of the seventh aided by one Bristol error. That momentum was short lived as the Blues staged a four run outburst in the bottom of the frame that turned a 3-2 nail-bitter into a 7-2 advantage.
Loparco led it off with a single followed by walks to Reynolds and Malloy to load the bases. Teddy Hague busted a two run single up the middle and Peyton Stephens completed the uprising with a sacrifice fly that chased home the fourth run of the frame.
Pittsfield struck back for three in the top of the eighth on the strength of a two run homer off the bat of Dave Matthews closing the gap at 7-5. But the free swinging Blues were determined to put this one in their back pocket and they unloaded for another four run outburst.
A sacrifice fly from Sullivan plated Reynolds, another double by Ramsey chased home Stephens and two Pittsfield errors completed the damage with two more tallies crossing the dish.
“There is no secret sauce to a team hitting their stride in the hitting department, “ said Palmer. “We are on the back side of the summer and with the playoffs coming up it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
“Offensively, you just keep hoping we continue to have quality at bats. I really like the top of our lineup they consistently get on base. We’ve had problems finishing and leaving too many runners on base.”
“But the middle of the order has started to come though with some timely hitting lately and we just hope we can continue that through the playoffs.”
Bristol with a 28-23 mark holds a three and a half game lead over fourth place Brockton with one game left to play and will host one of the two single elimination playoff games on Monday against an opponent not yet determined until Sunday’s final games are played.