NEW BRITAIN - The Sugar Land Skeeters came into New Britain Stadium on Friday night and played like a team desperate for a win.
Entering their series opener against the New Britain Bees just one game ahead of the York Revolution in the Freedom Division standings after enjoying a six-game cushion just nine games ago, the Skeeters pounced on New Britain starter Jed Bradley, handing the Bees a 10-5 loss. The lopsided defeat was New Britain’s third in its last four games and dropped the team back to the .500 mark for the season.
The Bees had a number of early chances against Sugar Land starter Dallas Beeler, but couldn’t scratch across the game’s first run. Darren Ford kept up his recent hot streak with a single up the middle to lead off the bottom of the first, but Bijan Rademacher followed with a hard-hit line drive right in front of second baseman Javier Betancourt, who fielded the ball on a short hop to begin a 4-6-3 double play.
In the second, Jason Rogers and Jonathan Galvez began the frame with hard singles to left before Jared James grounded to second for another potential double play. James hustled down the line and beat the throw to first as the Skeeters settled for one out and runners at the corners, and they would get a crucial second out when Rando Moreno bounced a chopper to short, where Ryan Jackson fielded and fired home to nab a sliding Rogers to spoil another scoring chance for the Bees. Logan Moore flied out to center to end the threat and help the Skeeters avoid trouble once again.
The Skeeters made the most of their chance in the fourth, pushing across four runs in a breakout inning that began with a seemingly harmless ground ball. Juan Silverio led off with a bouncer to short, but Moreno’s throw pulled Rogers off the bag at first. Rogers had time before Silverio reached first, but couldn’t locate the bag with his foot.
Dennis Phipps followed with a double high off the wall in right center to put runners on second and third, and a groundout to short Jason Martinson plated Silverio to give Sugar Land a 1-0 lead. Three more runs came across thanks to RBI hits by Betancourt, Blair Beck and Zach Borenstein to make the Bees pay for the error and give the Skeeters a 4-0 lead.
The onslaught continued in the fifth, as Bradley couldn’t get anything past the Sugar Land bats, which ripped five more hits to drive in three more runs to take a 7-0 lead and end Bradley’s night before the inning could end. Bradley finished his forgettable outing having allowed seven runs on 11 hits through 4 2/3 innings.
The Bees finally broke into the run column in the bottom of the fifth when Rademacher blasted a solo home run to right center to cut the Sugar Land lead to 7-1, but the Skeeters took the run right back when Martinson led off the seventh with a solo home run of his own to deep center. New Britain tried chipping away again in the seventh thanks back-to-back doubles by Rogers and Galvez to pull within 8-4, but the Skeeters answered right back in the ninth with a two-run blast to center by Borenstein, who put the game away and moved the Skeeters one step closer to avoiding a monumental collapse and securing a first-half postseason berth.