NEW BRITAIN - If the New Britain Bees are to climb back in the Liberty Division Race, they will have to take down the teams currently sitting above them in the standings.
The past two nights against the first place High Point Rockers have gone a long way in accomplishing that goal.
Cory Riordan turned in his second straight quality start while Rando Moreno broke out of a slump with his first home run of the year to send New Britain to a 5-2 victory at home, the team’s second in a row against High Point. The Bees have a chance to win the four-game set on Thursday night.
Riordan allowed just one run over 6 1/3 innings, while Moreno’s two hits, including the go-ahead home run, helped the .202 batting average that he held entering the game.
After a quick 1-2-3 first, Riordan ran into trouble in the second, starting with a single by Quincy Latimore that bounced off the third base bag, turning a seemingly routine grounder into a hit. Riordan walked Richie Shaffer to put runners on first and second with nobody out, and after picking up two huge outs, surrendered a line drive single to right by Giovanny Alfonzo, which scored Latimore to give the Rockers a 1-0 lead.
But Riordan settled in and retired 10 in a row. The Bees bats, however, couldn’t break out against High Point starter Edwin Carl, at least until the bottom of the fifth. Logan Moore starting the frame with a leadoff single to left, and with one out, Moreno launched a two-run home run just over the wall in right field to give the Bees a 2-1 lead.
New Britain wasn’t done in the fifth, putting two more runners on thanks to a single by Darren Ford and a walk to Ryan Jackson. With two outs and an 0-2 count, Jason Rogers ripped a line drive to left that was tailing towards the foul pole, and a hustling Latimore laid out for what looked like a spectacular diving catch, until the ball was shook free from his glove after colliding with the ground. Ford scored on the play to extend the Bees’ lead to 3-1.
Riordan didn’t allow a hit from the end of the second to the start of the seventh, when a pair of one-out singles by Shaffer and Viosergy Rosa put runners at the corners and prompted manger Mauro Gozzo to call on Brady Dragmire to replace Riordan. Dragmire, who struggled in his last outing on Monday against the Rockers, came on and forced Myles Schroder to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
New Britain tacked on valuable insurance in the seventh, starting the inning with a leadoff single to right by Moreno and an RBI triple by Ford, who smashed his second hit of the night to the wall in right center. Rogers followed with his third hit of the game, a hard single through the shortstop hole to plate Ford and give the Bees a four-run lead.
Jim Fuller suffered a rarity in the ninth when he allowed a 104 mph laser home run off the bat of Hector Gomez to start the inning, but Fuller worked through the rest of the ninth to close out the win.