Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bristol Eastern baseball hosts Berlin in Class L showdown tomorrow

They may not be in the same division any more, but Bristol Eastern (CCC South Blue) and Berlin (CCC South White) will meet on the baseball diamond at Bristol Eastern High School today at 3:45 p.m.
If you are a fan of local high school baseball, this game is worth getting out to. The contest pits Class L's No. 1 and 2 ranked teams against each other. Between them, they have 27 wins and just two losses. Each team is ranked in the Top 10 in the New Haven Register / GameTimeCT poll, and they have been mainstays there. Berlin was No. 5 in last week's poll while Bristol Eastern came in at No. 7
Bristol Eastern is 14-1 and is ranked No. 1 in the Class L state tournament standings. The Lancers have won 13 straight games since a 7-6 nine-inning setback against Tolland. That streak includes a 12-2 dismantling of East Catholic (13-3) yesterday at BEHS. The Eagles are no slouches in their own right -- they're ranked third in Class M.
How has Eastern been so good?
One reason is pitching. Left-hander Nate Carney (5-0) is a known commodity, but right-hander Tyler Troth (5-0) has been solid as well, leading to a devastating 1-2 punch. Gary Gagnier is 3-1 while Zach Marquis is 1-0.
Another reason is hitting. The Lancers can do plenty of that, as they displayed in a 14-hit attack yesterday against East Catholic. Nate Hickey was 4-for-4 with three RBI to lead the way. Back-to-back five-run outbursts in the fourth and fifth innings blew the game wide open.
Eastern has scored in double digits four times this season. Not surprisingly, they have won every one of those contests. 
It's not just Hickey hitting the ball. Others like Marquis, Gagnier and Adrian James have taken their turn leading the offense. Gagnier and Cory Fradette have each launched home runs this season.
Eastern has also been able to win close games. Twice this season, the Lancers have entered the seventh inning of a road game down two runs or more, without having a run of their own on the scoreboard. Eastern came out with a win in both of those games.
In an April 18 game at Beehive Stadium in New Britain, the Lancers trailed the Golden Hurricanes 3-0 entering their last at bat. Eastern scored four times to stun New Britain by a 4-3 score.
In a May 5 game at Bristol Central, Eastern trailed its rival 2-0 entering the seventh. The Lancers tallied three runs to rattle off a 3-2 comeback victory.
Eastern also owns walkoff wins over Wethersfield (4-3 on April 29) and New Britain (2-1 in eight innings on May 11).
If there is one issue with the Lancers, it has been picking the ball up. Eastern had made at least one error in 12 of 14 games, according to results reported to The Hartford Courant. There have been multiple times where three or more have been committed, including four -- the season high -- in the loss to Tolland.
If Eastern cleans up its defense, it could turn into a really dangerous team.

Speaking of potentially dangerous teams, include Berlin in that list. The Redcoats, ranked second in Class L, have one loss, 2-1 at home (Zipadelli Field) to Plainville on May 5. Berlin has won four straight games since. The Redcoats have also been really good at winning close games. In fact, nine of the 13 Berlin wins have come by two runs or less. The Redcoats own a victory over defending Class M champion Sheehan, a 6-5 win over Southington, and a 5-4 triumph over New Britain.

This game has the potential to be a classic. Don't miss out. 

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