BERLIN - Taking on Wethersfield, the defending Class L state champion, the Berlin baseball team knew mistakes had to be minimal if it was to remain unbeaten on the young season.
Not only did the Redcoats limit their own miscues, they jumped all over the Eagles’ mistakes. All five of Berlin’s runs were scored or set up by a Wethersfield error in a 5-2 victory at Zipadelli Field on Thursday afternoon.
The defending champs ended the day with six errors, committing at least one in every inning except the third.
“We didn’t play bad today,” Berlin head coach Leo Veleas said. “We took advantage of some errors and had some key hits. Our pitching was good too. No complaints about that.”
The good pitching was thanks Adam Bilinsky, who twirled a complete game while allowing just one earned run and striking out eight. Bilinsky cruised through the first 5 1/3 innings, allowing just two balls out of the infield, while letting just one runner reach scoring position.
“I thought our defense was good and Adam did a heck of a job,” said catcher Ryan Hyde after recording two hits and driving in a run. “He stepped up big time.”
Bilinski ran into some trouble in the top of the seventh, as the tying run stepped to the plate with runners on second and third, but he put a bow on his brilliant day with back-to-back strikeouts to end the Eagles’ comeback bid.
“My mindset was to just get the batter,” Bilinsky said. “I didn’t focus on the runners and just wanted to throw strikes and let my defense handle the rest.”
Bilinsky cruised through a perfect first, throwing just eight pitches (all for strikes), before the Redcoats’ bats went to work in the bottom of the inning. Dan Veleas started the rally with a single and advanced to second when Wethersfield starter Luis Perez’s pickoff attempt sailed behind first base. Hyde and Paul D’Amore followed with singles of their own to put the Redcoats (3-0) up 1-0. D’Amore also finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Perez looked to be ticketed for a bounce-back inning in the second after striking out the first two batters, but a walk to Gianni Fanelli led to a lazy fly ball to center by Veleas, where Roan Moran dropped a sure out as Fanelli scored all the way from first. Hyde made Moran and the Eagles (1-1) pay with an RBI double to plate Veleas and give the Redcoats a 3-0 lead after two.
“It helps getting out to an early lead,” Hyde said. “You get to go up to the plate a little more relaxed and a little calmer. It’s been like that all season and it’s been feeling good.”
The lead remained three after three frames, and Berlin had forced Perez to throw 83 pitches to get just nine outs.
Meanwhile, Bilinsky cruised, carrying a no-hitter through 3 2/3 innings. He managed to get an out even when his no-hit bid was broken after Wethersfield’s Derek Tenney drove a double into the right center field gap, but the Redcoats caught Tenney wandering too far off second as the throw came in from the outfield for the second out of the inning.
Seeking insurance in the fifth, Berlin capitalized on more mistakes by the Eagles defense. Tom Hyjek started the frame with a single up the middle, and advanced to second on a throwing error by Tenney. Jeff Kuzoian followed with a line drive single to center to score Hyjek and put the Redcoats up 4-0. Vince Dastoli bunted over Kuzoian, who later scored on a single to right by Giancarlo Tufano, putting Berlin ahead by five.
“Offensively, you have to take advantage of those mistakes,” Leo Veleas said. “It’s not always who wins, but who loses, and who makes the fewest mistakes.”
Bilinsky hit his first speed bump in the sixth, though he appeared to have an inning-ending double play before an errant throw by Dan Veleas sailed into the Wethersfield dugout, leading to an RBI triple by Tenney, his second extra-base hit of Bilinski.
Hunter Dombal followed with a sharp single up the middle to drive in Tenney and trim the deficit to 5-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, but they wouldn’t scratch another run against Bilinski, who maintained his efficiency from start to finish.
“He pitched very well,” Leo Veleas said. “He had decent velocity and was getting his curveball over…I stressed to these kids before the season, if you have pitching and defense, you’ll be in every game.”