NEW BRITAIN- After a three-game losing streak that had New Britainâ€™s baseball team reeling, the Hurricanes broke out of their offensive slump in a big way, crushing Hartford Public 12-2 in six innings.
Danniel Rivera set the tone early at the top of the lineup, walking and scoring two batters later to put the Hurricanes on the board. Rivera ended up 1-for-2, reaching base three times and scoring three runs.
â€śMe at the top of the lineup, my job is to get on base no matter what,â€ť Rivera said of his approach in the leadoff spot. â€śTo go the other way, which is my best bet and staying small when I get behind on two-strike counts. Just staying small and look to go the other way on anything close or get it on the ground somehow and force the defense to make a play and give myself the opportunity to get on base.â€ť
The Hurricanes saw production up and down the lineup in the offensive onslaught. Eight different New Britain hitters reached base, and all eight scored at least one run. The offense was also powered by a six-run fifth inning that featured and inside-the-park grand slam by Melvin Rodriguez. Josh Garcia also hit a two-run inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning to force a mercy rule to close out the game.
Ruffino Santiago had a strong start for New Britain, giving up just one run and three hits, while striking out four in five innings of play. The lone run he gave up came in the first inning, but Santiago settled in after that, giving up just one hit over his final four innings.
â€śMy mentality was just to stay strong, come in and throw strikes and just do my best to stay strong and keep my head up so I wouldnâ€™t let my team down,â€ť Santiago said.
Santiago was effective in creating quick outs using a strong supply of fastballs. He only threw more than four pitches to five separate Owls hitters, something he relies on to make his job and the defenseâ€™s job much easier.
Head coach Roberto Mercado credited the offensive outbreak to his teamâ€™s work ethic in practice and continuing to stay confident.
â€śThe guys have been working hard. We had good practices the last couple days, but this monsoon we had we really couldnâ€™t do much. But we had a good couple of days of hitting inside. So guys are working on things they need to work on. Itâ€™s a quick season, so guys need to make adjustments, and I think our guys are starting to do that.â€ť
The Hurricanes did have a scare with third baseman Will Homar. He fell in school Wednesday and hurt his knee, according to Mercado. He did start the game, but had to be taken out after slowing down on a run to first base. Despite the injury, Mercado said Homar should be OK to start on the mound in the teamâ€™s next game Friday.
In all, Mercado is looking ahead and hoping his team can continue to build off of this win.
â€śBack to work tomorrow. We need a good practice tomorrow and then we have a tough Windsor team on Friday. So that will be a tough test for us, but we have our ace on the mound. They have a quality ball club over there and we look forward to the next game.â€ť
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org