Defending Champion Bethlehem eliminated by Watertown

Copyright Peter Wallace    Register-Citizen   8/13/2011
Watertown’s Blaze made the most of a few hits while the defending-champion Bethlehem Plowboys recapped their frustration with this season, bowing out 4-1 at Watertown’s Deland Field. “It was the story of our year,” said Plowboy player/coach Tony Geraci after his team out-hit Watertown 9-5, but couldn’t produce the winning runs. “We make errors and we don’t score runs.”
Friday’s was an elimination game for both teams, beginning the second weekend in the Tri-State Baseball League’s 12-team double elimination playoffs. Last week, the Blaze, seeded fifth in the tournament (14-7), beat No. 12 Thomaston Saturday, then lost to the fourth seeded Waterbury Wild the next day. The Plowboys (9-11), seeded ninth, dropped a close one to Terryville Saturday. Both teams came to Deland Field Friday looking for revival. Most of the Plowboys still taste last year’s success; the Blaze, bursting all the way to the semifinals in its first year in the league, expected nothing less this year.
An unearned Watertown run in the bottom of the first was the first sign things wouldn’t change for the Plowboys. Watertown’s Chris Ayer drew a one-out walk from Bethlehem’s Jason Krajeski (8 innings, 2 earned runs 5 hits, 3 strikeouts, 5 walks), stole second and seemed stranded there as one fly-out came down in center field and a third tough out seemed in the center field bag until it jarred back out. Ayer got all the way home on the error, 1-0.
Krajeski pitched no-hit baseball for the first four innings, but he stood in a hole from the first. Meanwhile, Blaze pitcher Brett Koliani was more accessible for Plowboy bats early in the game, but followed his own learning path. Four scattered Bethlehem hits did Koliani no harm in the first three innings. Plowboys Aaron Granahan (2-for-4), Ted Gravel (2-for-4, run scored) and Tony Geraci each ended an inning on second. Ted Gravel led off the fourth inning with a double deep into left field. Koliani got the next two batters on strikes. Then Kyle Capaldo (2-for-4) drilled a rope up the middle. Gravel headed for home; the throw from center field got past Watertown’s catcher. The score was tied, 1-1, but the learning curves traveled in opposite directions.
“I made my mistakes, but I taught myself,” said Koliani. “I stopped using my secondary stuff and started pounding the zone harder.” Sean Miller-Jones got the first hit on Krajeski with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. It did no harm. But next inning, the Plowboy walls came down on just two hits and an error. Watertown’s Chris Comeau got all the way to second base on a lead-off throwing error. Mike Mastrocola (2-for-4, double, 2 runs scored) drove Comeau in with a single up the middle, then reached second on the throw home. Mastrocola got to third on a passed ball, then scored on a bloop hit by Jay Spear (2-for-4), 3-1. Mastracola and Spear teamed up one more time Friday. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Mastrocola led off with a double, reached third on a ground-out, then scored on another hit by Spear.
“After two times through, we were more comfortable (with Krajeski),” said Mastrocola. “We had to capitalize,” said Spear. The Blaze could; Bethlehem couldn’t. It’s the difference in a season…and the end of one on Friday.
Tri-Town reaches winners bracket final
The Tri-Trojans defeated the Wolcott Scrappers 4-3 late Friday evening to advance to the winners bracket final scheduled on Sunday vs the winner from todays Litchfield/Waterbury game. Miles Scribner improved his personal record to 12-0 on the season and Andrew Osolin picked up his fifth save to lead the Trojans to victory. Connor Murray, Troy Kobylarz, and Casey McDonald each had two hits while Nick Lahoud contributed two RBI’s to the Tri-Town offense. Eric Sehnal (2 hits), Eddie Belval, and Adam LaCapra each had an RBI for Wolcott. Zach Sehnal pitched for Wolcott allowing just 4 runs in the fourth inning otherwise blanking the Trojans.