NEW BRITAIN - Before Jovan Rosa stepped up to the plate in the 12th inning Tuesday night he had a simple message for teammate Jamar Walton.
“I don’t mean to sound cocky, but I told [Walton] who was hitting behind me ‘take all your batting gloves off. You’re not hitting. I’m finishing this right here,’” Rosa said. “Honestly, that’s what I was thinking.”
The New Britain Bees third baseman stayed true to his word.
Rosa hit a walkoff home run to cap off the Bees’ 6-5 comeback win against the Road Warriors at New Britain Stadium. He was 0-for-5 for the game heading to the plate.
“That’s just baseball,” Rosa said. “You have to have a short memory. I knew I had to focus on my next at-bat no matter what.”
In a way, Rosa’s night mirrored that of his team. Held in check by Road Warriors starting pitcher Felix Baez, New Britain scored four runs from the eighth inning on, including a two-run homer from Deibinson Romero to tie the game at 5-5 in the ninth inning.
In six innings of work, Baez gave up two runs on five hits, five walks and struck out three.
Romero was the leader of the offense, going 3-for-5 with three RBI. Jamar Walton added three hits of his own, including two triples.
Darren Ford had two hits for the Bees, including a leadoff single in the first inning that ended an 0-for-14 slump.
“I just wanted to get a hard ground ball or line drive,” Ford said. “With the guys behind me, anything can happen. They can always drive me in. So I just stayed focused on the middle of the field.”
On the mound for New Britain, Kyle Simon had an up-and-down start. In six innings, Simon gave up four runs on 10 hits and didn’t collect a single strikeout.
“It’s been rough on Simon this month,” Bees manager Wally Backman said. “He’s pitched good enough to win a couple games, but his ERA has been in the high-8’s and 9’s. But he hung in there and the key was getting it to our bullpen with a chance to win.”
New Britain has now taken the first two games of the four-game set. If the Bees win either of the final two matchups, it will be the team’s second straight series win. New Britain hasn’t won consecutive series since the end of July.
“A win like tonight shows what we can do,” Rosa said. “To be a playoff team, you have to be able to come from behind. Not everything is peaches and cream. These types of games are going to happen. And it’s a good thing we showed we could come from behind.”
With the Somerset Patriots losing and the Long Island Ducks getting rained out, the Bees move to within one game and 3 ½ games behind, respectively, the top two teams in the Liberty Division with 24 games left in the regular season.
“I watch [the standings]. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” Backman said. “It’s more fun to look when you win. We know what’s in front of us. We have to win every series. We’re just trying to take it one game at a time and play it like it’s the playoffs.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org