BRISTOL - Fridayâ€™s American Legion baseball game between Bristol and Berlin was another dogfight, as both teams battled through extra innings in a matchup that was decided by two runs or less for the third time this season.
For a pair of teams that host such hard-fought contests, it should be no surprise that both clubs feature top-tier talent, some of which will be on display at Tuesdayâ€™s Connecticut Futures Game, which will be held at the CCSU baseball field at 10 a.m.
Berlin will bring a pair of talented junior pitchers in Mark Addamo and Camden Murphy, while Bristol will be represented by middle infielder Evan Bouchard, who smacked a walk-off single in the eighth inning to send Berlin home on Friday.
â€śIâ€™m excited to represent Bristol,â€ť Bouchard said. â€śIâ€™m just looking to play my best and show them what Iâ€™ve got.â€ť
Bouchard wasnâ€™t even aware of the showcase presented by Rawlings, but after head coach Jerry LaPenta nominated him, Bouchard went to last weekâ€™s three-hour tryout held at CCSU and did enough to impress the eyes that were on him and the rest of the field.
â€śI was excited,â€ť Bouchard said. â€śMy mom told me about the email and I was excited, and now Iâ€™m just ready to play.â€ť
LaPenta, who has watched Bouchard all summer, wasnâ€™t surprised that Bouchard earned the nod.
â€śThatâ€™s awesome,â€ť LaPenta said. â€śItâ€™s well-deserved. He played shortstop most of the year in high school, but weâ€™ve had him at second and heâ€™s been great. Heâ€™s thrown three guys out at third base on relay throws, and has played really good defense overall. Heâ€™s been hitting the ball well, too.â€ť
Berlin head coach Gary Van Etten nominated Addamo and Murphy, who both impressed as well at the tryout and will be facing off against Bouchard once again as members of Team America Navy. Bouchard will play for Team National Red.
â€śItâ€™s good,â€ť Van Etten said of his two hurlers being selected. â€śTheyâ€™re two really good junior pitchers. Iâ€™m really proud of them. I hope I can make it down there to watch them.â€ť
Murphy found out that he was nominated for the tryout via email, and made the most of his time at CCSU, at least enough to warrant a return there on Tuesday.
â€śItâ€™s a big honor to be one of the two selected for that,â€ť Murphy said. â€śItâ€™s a big opportunity for me.â€ť
Once the trio learned of their selections, the sense of uncertainty turned to excitement as they prepared to face off against some of the best talent that Connecticut American Legion has to offer.
â€śI always like having good competition,â€ť Bouchard said. â€śIt makes it more fun when you see what all of these guys can do. Iâ€™m ready for a good challenge. There are some really good players there, but I think I can go there and will be able to showcase my skills too.â€ť
When it comes to All-Star Games, most participants just want to show that they can stack up against an increased level of competition. But some of the local participants will have some very specific goals in mind.
â€śMy goal is just to not make any errors and go 1-for-3 at the plate,â€ť Bouchard said. â€śThatâ€™s the minimum.â€ť
Bouchardâ€™s goal isnâ€™t a slam dunk, but given how all three games between Bristol and Berlin ended this season, all three local participants should be more than ready for a competitive atmosphere.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org