BRISTOL - The Brickhouse Indians (Newington) needed just one good inning to start the Connecticut Twilight League championship series off right.
The Indians put up three runs in the third inning Thursday night at Muzzy Field en route to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Sam’s Orioles. In doing so, the Indians take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
“We’ve just been playing our game,” Brickhouse manager Keith Echevarria said. “We have to keep playing loose like we have, having good at-bats, attacking the baseball, getting a lead. Those are things we have done and need to keep doing. I think we have the pitching to get the other lineups off-balance, as we have this entire tournament. We’ve just been playing sound baseball.”
The rally in the third was spearheaded by a double from Mike Lord, a walk to Chris Aleman and Nestor Velazquez getting hit by a pitch. That paved the way for catcher Eric Jailet to knock a bases-clearing double to left-center field to give the Indians a lead they would never surrender.
Orioles starting pitcher Liam Gallagher was pulled from the game the next inning after Brickhouse padded the lead with another run on a sacrifice fly from Lord.
After the Orioles had just beaten the Bristol Knights to avoid elimination, Echevarria believed it was key to score early and take advantage of the tired Chicago Sam’s team that made four errors in the game.
“The offense once again came through,” Echevarria said. “Scoring those three runs early was huge. And [John Amendola] took us home from there.”
A solid start from Amendola was crucial to the win as well. In a complete-game effort, Amendola gave up one run on four hits and didn’t walk a single batter in the game. He struck out six hitters.
“I wanted to come out and just calm myself down [and] pound the [strike] zone early,” Amendola said. “I got the inside fastball working a bit. The curveball was working a bit too. I just wanted to attack and make hitters feel uncomfortable as much as I could.”
The Indians will now look finish off the series and take the title tonight back at Muzzy Field. The second game of the series will be at 6 p.m. Should the Orioles win, there will be a deciding third game played right after.
“We’ve got our ‘a-team’ working right now,” Amendola said. “We’ve got the defense rolling. The pitching has been unreal. The bats are coming around and heating up at the right time. [The Orioles] have to beat us twice [Friday] and with how confident we are right now, I like our chances.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org