NEW BRITAIN - After a rough start to the month of May, the New Britain Bees were looking to get back on track.
Their series against the Long Island Ducks was a good start.
Brian Dupra provided the pitching, while Michael Baca and Jovan Rosa drove in the runs as the Bees took the second game of their doubleheader against the Ducks 2-1 on Sunday in seven innings.
Despite dropping the first game of the afternoon 3-1, New Britain won three of four to earn its first series win since the end of April, which also came against Long Island.
“Getting back from Sugar Land after the series we had down there [where we lost five of six] and to turn it around, it means a lot,” Rosa said. “It definitely means we’re on the right path. We’re going into this off day [Monday] with more confidence knowing what we’re capable of doing instead of dwelling on bad performances. We closed out this series on a positive which is important.”
After managing just three hits over the first four innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the third, against Ducks starter Dennis O’Grady, Baca tilted the game in the Bees’ favor with one swing of the bat in the fifth.
Leading off the inning, Baca took the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence for his first professional home run.
“I kinda expected the pitch to be there based on the at-bat before,” Baca said. “A 0-0 ballgame, Dupra pitched awesome and had just come out of the game and I heard [Bees manager] Stan [Cliburn] say, ‘someone put a win on his back.’ So I went out there looking to get on base to score and I just happened to get the right pitch in the right spot.
Following a walk from James Skelton and a double by Michael Crouse, Rosa stepped up to the plate and blooped a single shallow left field to score Skelton for his fifth RBI of the season.
New Britain totaled seven hits in Game 2 after hitting just five in the first game, where Steve Carrillo drove in the lone run.
Dupra, meanwhile, pitched five-hit ball over five scoreless innings and struck out one while walking none. It was his fifth consecutive start of at least five innings to start the season and gave the Bees back-to-back outings of that length on the day from their starters. Mike Lee allowed three hits and one run over five innings in Game 1.
“I’ve been commanding a couple of pitches in the zone so when one gets in trouble, I can kind of lean on another one,” Dupra said. “Just being able to do that is nice and so is having Skelton back there, calling a good game, moving around and mixing it up a bit. So I’m just trying to do what every one of our starters have done, which is going out there and pitching well. It’s good to build off that and keep doing that.”
The win moved Dupra to 3-0 on the season with a 1.75 ERA.
Brandon League replaced the right-hander in the sixth and ran into some trouble. The former Major League All-Star surrendered back-to-back singles and stolen bases to Fehlandt Lentini and Delta Cleary Jr. before getting Angelo Songco to strike out with runners on second and third. Elmer Reyes then grounded a ball back to the pitcher, which Lentini used to score Long Island’s only run.
With two outs, Joe Beimel came in to finish out the inning before closing the door in the seventh to seal the Bees’ win.
“It’s good to see League and Beimel close out a game,” Cliburn said. “We need those guys. I’m all about what those guys are about.
“We had a chance to put [Long Island] away [earlier], but we didn’t. But it was a good omen to see if League and Beimel could close it out in a tight situation and that’s what happened. We open up the game and it’s a completely different situation, atmosphere. We didn’t and they went out there got the job done.”
The Bees will be off Monday before starting a four-game set with the Bridgeport Bluefish on Tuesday with another doubleheader leading off the series.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach