Success earns Greeners respect

copyright By Johnny J. Burnham
Staff Writer – Bristol Press  May 18th, 2011

BRISTOL — It typically takes a number of years for the newcomer to any league to earn enough respect from the other teams to be considered as just one of the regulars. With some success over its first two campaigns, the Bristol Greeners have expedited that process. As they embark on just their third season, on the strength of back-to-back summers finishing in the upper half of the league standings and boasting a .600 winning percentage since coming into existence, the Greeners have already earned the respect of their Tri-State Baseball League counterparts on the field.

Bristol player/coach Shawn Mirmina is confident the club will be able to continue to move the bar higher up on the respect meter this season. He said that if things go as planned, this summer has the potential to be the most successful yet for the Mum City’s Tri-State affiliate. “We’ve had two pretty successful seasons so far in the league and we’re hoping to build on that this summer and compete for the league championship,” Mirmina said. “We’ve added a talented group of young players to our roster, including Nick Palmisano, Mat Neidzwiecki, Justin Tacinelli, Bret Clark and Mitch Buonefede.”

The additions of Neidzwiecki and Tacinelli, the skipper said, only add to the team’s list of quality arms. “Pitching should be a strength for us this season,” he said. “Tacinelli and Neidzwiecki are both coming off successful seasons pitching at the college level. We’re hoping those starters, along with veterans Geoff Pierce and Mike Hay will give us the opportunity to compete every night we take the field.”

The Greeners last stepped onto the field together in the third game of the postseason when they were eliminated on the road against Watertown. But when Bristol gets back on the field to open up the 2011 season Friday, it will do so on its home turf of Muzzy Field. In fact, the Greeners will play the first six games of the year at Muzzy and nine of its opening 10 in Bristol. Three games are scheduled to be played at Bristol Central High School. In all, Bristol will play a total of 13 contests on its 19-game regular season schedule at home. That’s good news for the Greeners. Last season, Bristol won 90 percent of its home affairs.

“We are fortunate again to be using Muzzy Field this summer, not only because it’s one of the nicest fields in the state, but also because we were 9-1 at home last season,” Mirmina added. “While other teams in the league have brought in players from out-of-town, our team remains, for the most part, all Bristol players who enjoy the opportunity to take the field with one another.” Bristol will kickoff of the Tri-State season with a doubleheader Friday night, taking on Prospect in the first game at 6 p.m., followed by a clash with Brass City (Waterbury) at 8:15 p.m. The rest of the league will begin play Sunday, including the Terryville Black Sox.

Terryville qualified for the playoffs a year ago after an 11-11 regular season, bowing out of the double-elimination tournament in its first two games. The Black Sox, managed by Jim Mischke, begin their season Sunday in Watertown. Their first home game will come June 1, against defending champion Bethlehem. Bethlehem has played in the championship game in five of the last six seasons, grabbing the title twice. Four different teams have won the league championship the past four seasons — Bethlehem, Brass City (2009), Winsted (2008) and Torrington (2007).

Despite saying farewell to one of its long-time members, the Thomaston Spoilers, the Tri-State Baseball League will still feature 18 teams this season as it welcomes back Lakeville. The Lakeville Firemen were one of the founding teams, playing from 1968-1999, claiming six league championships during that time frame. They’ll now be known as the Lakeville Outlaws. The Mazda Dodge Red Devils are now the Thomaston Threshers.