By: AJ Fabbri
06/15/2018 11:41 PM
Coming into Friday, the Blues were the only team in the FCBL without a home run.
But Bristol flipped the script on their offensive woes Friday night, slugging two long balls en route to a 6-4 road victory over the Brockton Rox.
In the fifth, the Blues were in danger of squandering a golden scoring opportunity, a bad habit that has plagued them in their 5 losses.
Andrew Hague, Ian Ostberg, and Dylan Reynolds all walked to set up Bristol’s three and four-hole hitters, Rich Brereton and Matt Bonvicini, with no outs.
Both popped up in the infield, failing to produce any runs.
That brought up the slumping Peyton Stephens, who was 0 for his last 24, with 14 strikeouts.
After falling behind 1-2 in the count, Stephens exorcised his early-season demons with one swing of the bat.
Stephens smashed a two out grand slam to give the Blues a commanding 5-0 lead.
A bounce back performance from starter Kelvin Sosa, who allowed just two hits in five innings of work, striking out five, set the Blues up for a relatively stress-free victory.
Some insurance came off the bat of Alex Loparco, who blasted a solo shot in the eighth to stretch the Blues’ lead to 6-1. Loparco, who was hitting just .103 through June 8th, has found success after being moved to the bottom third of the lineup from the two-hole. The third baseman has hit .389 since manager Ronnie Palmer dropped him in the lineup on June 9th.
After strong bullpen performances from Emmet Sheehan (2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 K) and Kyle Haag (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K), Neal McDermott came on in the ninth to shut the door. Having pitched just one inning in the past five days, Palmer was looking to get his closer some work, even though it was not a save situation.
But the righty flamethrower, who had yet to surrender a hit in six innings pitched, ran into trouble.
A leadoff walk and an infield single started the Brockton rally. A passed ball allowed Buddy Mrowka to score, and a Charlie Maxwell double scored Zack Gelof to cut Bristol’s lead to just three. After a Loparco error at third allowed Maxwell to score, the Blues’ lead dropped to 6-4.
With two men on and the game-winning run at the plate, McDermott dialed up a three pitch strikeout to end any threat of a Rox comeback.
Stephens finished the day with 4 RBI. Loparco knocked a base hit in addition to his solo home run. Ostberg scored two runs. Bonvicini added an RBI. Sosa earned the victory to improve to 2-1 on the season.
The Blues improve to 10-5.
After an off day on Saturday, the Blues return to Muzzy Field for a double header against the Pittsfield Suns on Sunday, the 17th. First pitch for game one is set for 3:00 p.m. Game two will begin 30 minutes after game one’s conclusion.
*ALL DADS GET IN FREE ON SUNDAY AS PART OF A BRISTOL BLUES’ FATHER’S DAY PROMOTION*