NEW BRITAIN - On a day when starting pitcher Alex Silva didnâ€™t have it on the mound the New Britain baseball team was still able to pull out a win due to some potent offense and good relief work.
Silva lasted just 1 2/3 innings in Friday afternoonâ€™s game against Goodwin Tech but was helped out by Ruffino Santiago who came in and threw 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball to lift the Hurricanes to the 10-4 victory.
â€śWe have a bunch of arms and we knew Silva wasnâ€™t going to go very long because it was his first time out and we werenâ€™t going to extend him too much,â€ť New Britain head coach Roberto Mercado said. â€śHe had a tough time finding the zone but Ruffino came in and did a good job for us and kept us in the ball game. It was impressive to see him come in and perform in a big spot.â€ť
Just a sophomore, Santiago had never pitched in a varsity game prior to Friday but he held up just fine in his first outing. The right-hander was expected to pitch in the game but coming in that early was not in the game plan. After Silva struggled to find the strike zone, Santiago came in and settled things down which allowed the offense to go to work.
The sophomore finished up his first appearance allowing just one run, on four hits and three walks while striking out three in his 4 1/3 innings to earn his first career win. After Santiago left the game Guillermo Burgos pitched a hitless seventh inning to close out the game.
â€śIt meant a tremendous amount,â€ť shortstop Danniel Rivera said. â€śAlex struggled a little bit in the first inning but we always have backup pitchers and we always work as a team to execute and get the job done no matter what.â€ť
While the bullpen did a good job in mop-up duty against Goodwin Tech (0-1), the offense also deserves a lot of credit. The Gladiators jumped out to a quick 3-0 in the top of the first inning, but the Hurricanes answered by scoring at least one run in every inning but the fifth.
Of the nine New Britain (1-1) batters in the lineup, seven had at least one hit and six had at least one RBI. Rivera and second basemen Justin Adorno were among the standouts as the former hit an inside-the-park home run, while both scored two runs and drove in two runs.
Goodwin Tech starting pitcher David Plourde held the Hurricanes at bay in the early innings as his curveball was fooling the lineup the first time through, but New Britain eventually caught on and tagged the senior for seven runs, six of which were earned.
â€śI thought I pitched pretty well early on,â€ť said Plourde who added a triple in five plate appearances. â€śBut as the game went on I started leaving the ball up a little bit too much and they were hitting it.â€ť
The game couldnâ€™t have started any better for the Gladiators as three of the first five batters came around to score as they took advantage of a Rivera error which extended the inning. Right fielder Ryan Johnson capped off the inning with a two-run triple which plated the final two runs of the frame. From there though, Goodwin Tech was only able to muster one other run for the remainder of the game and it certainly wasnâ€™t because the team didnâ€™t have its chances.
Including the first inning, the Gladiators left the bases loaded on three separate occasions and in total left a whopping 13 runners on base. The final deficit for Goodwin Tech ended up being six, but they certainly could have been a lot closer with one or two more hits at the right time.
â€śI donâ€™t know what it was today we just couldnâ€™t get that hit we needed,â€ť Goodwin tech head coach Joe Granja said. â€śI donâ€™t know if it was the weather or maybe itâ€™s just the fact that it was the first game of the season but it was just one of those days and thatâ€™s the game of baseball. We had our opportunities we just couldnâ€™t capitalize on it.â€ť
In the end New Britain responded to losing its opening game in heartbreaking fashion by picking up its first win of the season, while Goodwin Tech got its first game action in against a quality opponent.
â€śItâ€™s always good to get a win,â€ť Rivera said. â€śOur first game didnâ€™t go as planned because we lost on a walk-off but we were able to bounce back and get right back in track. Itâ€™s good that we keep hitting the ball well.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s nice to just get the first one out of the way,â€ť Granja said. â€śNew Britain is a good team and a very good program so we are happy to get the first game done. I like our team and I think we are going to do well this season.â€ť
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5