The New Britain Bees are in Maryland this weekend to take on the Blue Crabs, and they will look to carry over the momentum they generated at the end of their three-game set with the High Point Rockers earlier this week.
After being shut out in game one of the series on Monday, the Bees bounced back to take the last two, including one in extra innings for the team’s first series win, winning streak and extra innings victory of the season. The season is still young, but as the Bees showed last year, a slow start can doom a chance for a playoff spot, so this would be a good time for the team to get going.
Here are some notable performances from the Bees’ first series victory of the year:
JARED JAMES, OF
Heading into the series against the Rockers, James held a batting average below the Mendoza Line, albeit in a smaller sample size. That batting average has now soared past the .200 mark after a big series this week that included a monster performance in the series finale, where James went 4-for-4 at the dish with a three-run home run. James started the series on the bench, but got a chance in the ninth inning of the series opener and knocked a pinch-hit single to keep the Bees alive in a game they eventually lost 2-0. Given the way James swung the bat since that base hit, he may be spending less time on the bench.
With Jovan Rosa’s contract recently purchased by a team in the Mexican Leagues, the Bees lost some of their power in the lineup. If James, a first-year member of the Bees, can start to swing a hot bat, that would be huge for the team. Nobody expects him to maintain his ridiculous 1.143 OPS, but a continued display of production would be a welcomed sight for manager Mauro Gozzo and hitting coach Chuck Stewart.
ANTHONY MARZI, SP
The Berlin native turned heads this week, as Marzi dazzled in the series opener, despite the Bees eventually falling in that contest due to a sluggish offense. But Marzi did everything he could to keep the Bees in that game, tossing six shutout innings while striking out eight. Marzi’s brilliant outing represented a remarkable improvement from his first start of the season, when he allowed six runs over five innings, while surrendering two home runs.
The Bees left High Point with their first series win, but also with the second-highest team ERA in the Atlantic League (5.13). The Bees hope a bounceback start by Marzi can help him and the rest of the team’s starting rotation shrug off some rough first outings and get the team back to the solid pitching staff it had last season.
JIM FULLER, RP
The two wins for the Bees to close out the series against the Rockers were decided by a combined three runs, so the team needed some clutch performances out of the bullpen in high-leverage situations. Fuller answered the call in both of his appearances during the series win, and came away with a pair of holds to push him to the top of the Atlantic League in that category.
Fuller hasn’t seen a tremendous amount of action so far this season, but when he was asked to get big outs against High Point, he delivered. Fuller came on in the bottom of the eighth in Wednesday’s game with New Britain clinging to a one-run lead and struck out the only batter he faced to get the ball to Jose Rosario in the ninth. Twenty-four hours later, Fuller was back in a tight spot once again, looking to hold a one-run advantage in the eighth inning. Fuller did just that, tossing a scoreless eighth while allowing just one hit.
Fuller’s performance proved to be huge after the Rockers tied the game in the ninth, but the Bees came away with the win in 10 innings. The Bees have already found themselves in a number of tight games this season, and after this week’s performance, Fuller may find himself on the mound in more late-game situations.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org