BRISTOL BORO – Bristol pounded out eight hits – the same number as Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) rival Jenkintown, but when push came to shove, the Drakes pushed their runners across the plate while the Warriors left many of theirs stranded on the basepaths.
Bristol left 11 – count ‘em – 11 runners stranded including the sack jammed in the fourth inning and four left on board in the last two frames.
“The first inning, we had second and third and we have the 3-, 4- and 5-hitter coming up,” stated Warriors head coach Lou Persichetti. You can’t ask for anything better than that and we went strikeout, strikeout, strikeout.”
It seemed to be a theme for the Bristol batters, who struck out 11 times in the contest.
“We have to put the ball in play – at least get one,” added Persichetti. “If you do that, anything can happen.”
“We didn’t capitalize in this game today.”
Conversely, Jenkintown got clutch hits when it needed them, especially at the top pf the order. Leadoff hitter Andres Madden went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI. Second baseman Chris Geer, batting second, hit 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Cleanup hitter A.J. Labella went 2-for-3 with an RBI. A recent transfer student from Chestnut Hill Academy, Labella
“A.J. just seems to have all the skills – he has power, he has speed,” said Jenkintown head coach George Vafiadis. “He does a great job for us.”
Number three hitter John Contoudis went 0-for-4 but he started the game on the ill for the Drakes and while he bent, he made sure his team did not break. While Contoudis surrendered four runs on five hits, he made sure the Warriors didn’t record more than a single hit in any frame he pitched.
“John had good stuff today; he was right around the plate, for the most part,” stated Vafiadis. “His breaking ball was good. His velocity was good today. He and the catcher called a good game today; it was well-done.”
His most difficult inning was the fourth when Bristol sent eight batters to the plate. Trailing 4-1, the Warriors put a pair of runners on base when senior Adrian Ellerbe walked and junior Tyler Dyszel walked.
While Warriors second baseman George Delgado popped up to first base for the second out, leadoff hitter Devon Gonzalez (3-for-4) was hit by a pitch and sophomore Jarett Wagner stroked a 2-run single. Senior Danny Padilla walked to re-load the sacks though sophomore Xavier Corbin hit a pop to third base to end the inning.
Still, the two runs provided by Wagner’s single made it a one-run game so the boys in Red & White were still in it.
Then came the fifth inning and the whole thing fell apart – for Bristol, anyway. Labella led off with a double then came home on a one-out bunt by Alec Griffin (3 RBI). Dyszel – who started on the hill for the Warriors – got centerfielder Jake McGrath to ground out to third base then seemed to be out of the inning when leftfielder Steven Kozlowski grounded out to short.
Catcher’s interference was ruled on Kozlowski’s grounder however so he was awarded first base. Things just got ugly from there, from the Warriors’ perspective, anyway. Jenkintown followed with run-scoring hits by Pat Morrin, Madden and Geer (double) with Madden’s single pushing a pair of runs across the plate.
“Whenever you compound hits, walks with errors against a good team, it’s always going to hurt you,” said Persichetti. “We preach that. Against a bad team, you might get away with it but Jenkintown is a solid team so they’re going to capitalize.”
“We can’t let that happen. We need to make sure anytime the ball goes in play, we at least get an out.
“We can’t let it go through our legs.”
Bristol got a run back in the fifth on a monster RBI double by Dyszel that scored Ryder Rigby and another on an RBI single by Delgado with two outs in the seventh but …
“We got somewhat of a rally going there but it was too late,” said Persichetti. “We can’t leave everybody on base and expect to rally from four or five runs down in the last inning.”
While Bristol led the game in baserunners left on base, the Drakes had their share of stranded runners. Indeed, the visitors left the sacks jammed with no outs in the second inning, striking out on three consecutive at-bats.
“They key point in this game was us coming back from those three hitters striking out looking with the bases loaded to end the inning,” said Vafiadis. “We weren’t able to score but we were able to come back and play good defense, pitch well and keep ourselves in the game.
“We didn’t get down on ourselves.
“We kept our heads in the game and we scored some runs.
Coming on in relief of Dyszel in the sixth was Austin Funair. The sophomore righthander tossed a pair of shutout innings while walking only one. It was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal day for the Warriors.
With the departure of eight everyday players, this looks like a rebuilding year at Bristol. When graduation took place last spring, the Warriors waved goodbye to catchers Steven Boggi and Jake Faight, shortstop Mike Cain, first baseman Mike Heller, pitchers Phil Krause and Ryan Bauman, who also played in the outfield, along with centerfielder Kyle Slivka-Fralin. That’s a lot of shoes to fill.
Bristol starts three freshmen on varsity including Delgado, Chris Paci and Allen Reyes. The sophomores who have cracked the starting lineup include Corbin, Wagner and Funair.
“We have a lot of young talent coming up but we have to build on what we have now,” said Persichetti. “Hopefully, the young guys can pick up on the experience.”
The Warriors fall to 1-1 on the season after kicking off the season with a 15-5 six-inning win over Church Farm School. Meanwhile, Jenkintown pushed to 3-0 after starting its season with wins over Valley Forge Military Academy and Bishop McDevitt.
Next up for Bristol is defending District 1 champion Devon Prep Tuesday, April 5 at home, then Calvary Christian Thursday, April 7 in Northeast Philadelphia. The Warriors are getting set to honor their number one fan, the late Mike Spinelli, who passed away on Feb. 27. Bristol baseball will remember “Big Mike” in a pre-game ceremony set for April 16 at Arm & Hammer Park, home of the Trenton Thunder. The Warriors will then take on Suburban One League (SOL) rival Harry S Truman.
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Jenkintown 9, Bristol 5
(April 1 at Bristol)
Jenkintown 004 050 0 – 9 8 3
Bristol 001 210 1 – 5 8 2
WP — John Contoudis 5IP, 4R, 5H, 5BB, 8SO, 1HB.
LP — Mike Dyszel 5IP, 9R, 4BB, 3SO, 2HB.
MULTIPLE HITS: J — Andres Madden 2-for-3, Chris Geer 2-for-4, A.j. Labella 2-for-3; B — Devon Gonzalez 3-for-4.
MULTIPLE RBI: J — Madden 2, Alec Griffin 3; B — Jarrett Wagner 2.