Central Islip, N.Y. - The New Britain Bees road woes from last year seem to have transferred over to this season.
Up three runs in the seventh inning, Kyle Simon surrendered four runs to the Long Island Ducks. It proved to be the difference maker as the Bees fell 4-3 Friday night to open their three-game series, marking the third straight game New Britain lost in the late innings.
After Cody Puckett led off the bottom of the inning by drawing a rare walk from Simon, Dan Lyons was hit by a pitch two batters later. That sent Elmer Reyes to the plate who doubled in two runs, cutting New Britain’s lead to one.
Fehlandt Lentini and Delta Cleary Jr. followed up with back-to-back singles with Cleary’s hit bringing home Reyes for the tying run.
A Marc Krauss sacrifice fly two batters later brought home the winning run.
The Bees managed just two hits over the final eight innings and struck out a combined 11 times. They left two runners on base in a night where they were unable to make it to first.
In the beginning, it looked as though the Bees would come out of their first road game of the season with a win.
Craig Maddox got New Britain off to a fast start with three-run home run in the bottom of the off Ducks starter Keith Couch.
New Britain manager Stan Cliburn had reworked the top of the order, putting centerfielder Michael Crouse in two-spot and the move paid off. Crouse drew a walk with one out and advanced to second on a stolen base as Jovan Rosa followed with a single setting up Maddox for his home run on the first pitch of his at-bat.
Jonathan Pettibone, meanwhile, continued his comeback from shoulder injuries with another strong outing. The former Phillies starter tossed five scoreless innings, giving up just four hits - all singles - while walking none. He threw 59 pitches and faced four batters or less in all five of the innings he was in the game.
In 8 1/3 innings this season, Pettibone has yet to surrender a walk and given up just eight base hits.
Simon then replaced Pettibone on the mound for the second straight start, finding just as much success against the Long Island hitters early on as Pettibone had before hitting the rough patch in the seventh.
After just two innings, last season’s ERA leader’s night was done. His ERA on the season now sits at 9.64 and has allowed more walks (4) in the early part of the season than strikeouts (3).
Brandon Shimo replaced Simon in the eighth. The right-hander gave up one hit and struck out one.
The Bees went into the ninth with the middle of their order coming up, but Long Island pitcher David Aardsma retired Rosa, Maddox and Jonathan Griffin in order to end the game and get the save.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach