NEW BRITAIN - High Point Rockers manager Jamie Keefe was not happy.
After New Britain Bees runner Jason Rogers appeared to be out at third base after an error on a potential double play ball in the eighth inning, third base umpire Eric Carmona spread his arms parallel to the ground, signaling Rogers safe and sparking a tirade from Keefe.
The umpires gathered and upheld the call, eventually tossed an irate Keefe and kept a late rally for the Bees alive, which they took advantage of and came back for a 5-4 win on Friday night.
Down 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Rogers led off with a single and controversially reached third after an error on a middle infield exchange that should have doubled up Rogers and Jonathan Galvez. Instead, the rally kept its steam and allowed Deibinson Romero to smack a game-tying single before a slow grounder by Taylor Motter was bobbled by third baseman Hector Gomez, allowing Galvez to slide in with the game-winner.
Jim Fuller continued his hot start to the season and slammed the door on the Rockers in the top of the ninth.
Bees starting pitcher and Berlin- native Anthony Marzi was making his first start in New Britain on the season, but the Rockers made sure to give him a rude homecoming welcome. Breland Almadora laced a single up the middle in the top of the first, and one out later, Stephen Cardullo smashed a missile of a home run off the video board in left center to give High Point an immediate 2-0 lead.
The Rockers continued their early surge in the second, again coming through with two outs. After Myles Schroder hammered a double into right center that short hopped the wall, Giovanny Alfonzo slapped a single to right, where a charging Jared James fielded and fired a strike home. But Schroder just beat the tag by Logan Moore to give High Point a 3-0 edge after a valuable at-bat from the ninth spot in the order.
Marzi settled down after the early hiccup and retired the next seven batters he faced, but the Bees couldn’t cut into the lead against Rockers starter Joe Van Meter, who cruised through the first three innings without allowing a hit. Alejandro De Aza finally broke through in the fourth, leading off the bottom of the frame with a lined single to center, and Rogers followed with a single down the left field line to push De Aza to third and spark a rally for New Britain.
Then, with a seemingly harmless first-pitch strike to Galvez, Van Meter’s night was done. The righty came up lame and was taken out of the game after grabbing at his left leg, and was immediately replaced by lefty Ashur Tolliver.
The reliever and High Point caught a break when Galvez smoked a line drive right at second baseman Tyler Landendorf for the first out, but the luck ran out there. James ripped a single to right to score De Aza, and after the Bees loaded the bases with two outs, Moore was hit by a pitch later to force in a run and cut New Britain’s deficit to one.
Alexi Amarista had a chance to give the Bees the lead with what would have been a momentum-seizing grand slam, but after working a 12-pitch at-bat, the shortstop flied out to Cardullo, who made the catch with his back against the right field wall.
The Bees tied it in the fifth when Galvez laced a two-out single to right to score De Aza, who had doubled down the right field line earlier in the inning.
The Rockers regained the lead in the top of the seventh off reliever Michael Johnson, with a little help from the New Britain defense. Alfonzo reached on an error to start the frame, and after a walk and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, Gomez bounced a grounder to third, where Motter was positioned on the lip of the infield grass. Motter appeared to have a play at the plate, but the ball glanced off his glove and right into the lap of Ozzie Martinez at shortstop, who could only make the play at first and allow High Point to take a 4-3 lead, one that held until a daring baserunning move by Rogers changed the Bees’ night, and gave the team their fifth win in their last six games.