PLAINVILLE - The Plainville baseball team showed a lot of fight in its game against Bristol Eastern on Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Devils (1-1) picked up their first win of the season 4-3 on the strength of solid outfield defense and just enough timely hitting, but the key was answering the Lancers’ early scoring.
Bristol Eastern (0-2) jumped out to a lead with a first-inning run just three batters in but Plainville answered with two in the bottom of the first and would have a couple of similar answers throughout the early stages of the game. All of the scoring for both teams took place in the first three innings.
“They jumped on us early but we had an answer in each of the first three innings,” Plainville head coach Lou Mandeville said. “Sports [are] about momentum and every time it seemed like they were getting some our guys came back and took it away.”
Eastern starter Jake Violette only lasted 3 2/3 innings and was let down by his defense as only one of the four runs he allowed was earned. He also struck out four and walked three.
Plainville starter Jordan Bishop was similarly betrayed by his infield. All three runs charged to him were unearned but the difference was the work done by the outfielders. The Blue Devils recorded 12 outfield putouts in the game as the three seniors out there, Grant Sarra, Dwight Burns and Jon Olson, were able to run down the majority of Bristol Eastern’s fly balls.
That type of defense helped Bishop get through five innings and pick up the win.
“Having those guys out there makes it so that I don’t have to be perfect on every pitch,” said Bishop, who added an RBI single. “It’s good to try for perfection but it’s also good to know that I have three seniors back there who cover a lot of ground.”
After Bishop exited the game, Dylan Morrell pitched the final two innings to earn the save. The junior didn’t allow a hit in his time on the bump.
The Lancers did have their chances to tie the game up, as they had runners on base in each of the last four innings, but just couldn’t get the big hit. Perhaps the biggest opportunity came in the seventh inning when Bristol Eastern had the top of the order due up.
Leadoff hitter Cory Fradette worked a walk to start the inning but the following two hitters, Anthony Lozier and Violette, flied out for two quick outs. That was the first time Violette was retired in the game as he finished 3-4 with two doubles. Fredette then proceeded to steal stole second and third base with cleanup hitter Zac Marquis headed to the plate and two outs but the senior slugger struck out to end the game.
Bristol Eastern was able to get people on base throughout the afternoon, but when it wasn’t aided by errors, it struggled to come up with the clutch hit that would have tied the game.
“Our failure to hit in the clutch has been evident in our first two games,” Bristol Eastern head coach Mike Giovinazzo said. “When we need a big hit we just can’t seem to get it. We have to cut down our swings in those situations.
“We have some guys swinging from their heels and hitting long fly balls. We have to stay shorter and get on top of the ball and drive it. There were too many routine, deep fly balls. Those may be home runs in other leagues but they aren’t home runs here.”
After a Violette double drove home a run for Bristol Eastern in the bottom of the first, Plainville answered right back on a Bishop RBI single. Rob Munson scored the second Blue Devil run of the inning on a wild pitch, making it 2-1 in Plainville’s favor early.
The Lancers answered in the top of the second inning as it too took advantage of some shaky Plainville defense. Matt Massarelli reached on a Morrell error and came around to score on a two-run double from Fradette to give Bristol Eastern a 3-2 lead.
Plainville once again answered when Sarra reached on an error and came around to score on a fielder’s choice off the bat off Jon Olson in the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the third the Blue Devils got a two-out double from Shaun Simoneau to plate Bishop and that would end up be the game-winning hit.
“At the end of the day you just want to have more crooked numbers on the scoreboard than the other team,” Mandeville said. “Today we were able to do that and it was good to come away with the win.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5