MANCHESTER - The Brickhouse Indians (Newington) punched their ticket to the Connecticut Twilight League title series with some early offense and a solid start from Mike Lord.
The Indians right-hander gave up three hits as Brickhouse took down the second-seeded Bristol Knights 3-1 in the winner’s bracket final Tuesday night at Mt. Nebo Park.
The win Tuesday came just five days after Brickhouse beat the top-seeded Chicago Sam’s Orioles. Newington entered the playoffs as an underdog at the fifth-seed, but has outscored opponents 13-5 in three postseason games.
“We’ve just been relaxed,” Brickhouse manager Keith Echevarria said. “We have the ‘a-team’ there. Sometimes, guys can’t make it to games, for whatever reason, but right now we have our best playing.”
Bristol moves to the loser’s bracket and will face either the Chicago Sam’s Orioles or PLAT Life Royals tonight at Muzzy Field at 6 p.m.
The Knights were never able to get anything going against Lord. In five-plus innings of work, he struck out five and walked three to go along with the three hits he surrendered.
Bristol’s only three hits off the starter were singles by Kyle Lentini in the third inning and Tyler Favreau in the fourth and a double from Steve Clout to lead off the sixth and push Lord from the game. Clout later scored when Bristol’s Justin Martella grounded out to third off reliever Griffin Bremer.
“My changeup was definitely working,” Lord said. “I was able to use that, off the fastball, all game. It was really about just keeping them off-balance all game - throwing changeups where you normally wouldn’t.”
It also helped the Indians were able to get to Bristol starter Nick Dzioba early, scoring both runs in the first inning off a sacrifice fly from Camden Mamigonian and an error from Knights first baseman Rex Cone.
“Playing against Bristol, you always have to get an early lead and make them chase you,” Echevarria said. “If they get ahead of you, they’re killer. They have great players all around and they’re not a team you can take lightly. They’re the ones that give me the most fear.”
Despite the early deficit, Dzioba still had a solid start for Bristol. In a complete game, he gave up six hits while walking just two hitters and striking out two over seven innings.
“He was just really good all game,” Bristol manager Chris McGrath said of his starter. “They had some good at-bats and worked him hard, but he kept us in it all game long. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Now the Indians get some time off and will wait. They will take on whoever comes out of the elimination bracket - which could mean a rematch with the Knights or Orioles, or squaring off against the Royals - in a best-of-three series, which will begin tonight at Muzzy Field, after the final of the elimination game.
“We’re flying high right now,” Lord said. “We’ve got as good a shot as there is to get it done. We just have to go out there and do it.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org