BRISTOL - The Bristol Blues and center fielder Chris Davis saw a game-changing hit flash right before their eyes.
Davis stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded and the Blues down one run to the Nashua Silver Knights on Thursday night in an elimination game for Bristol.
With the count even at 2-2, Davis ripped a line drive right past Silver Knights third baseman Cam Cook but the ball landed just foul and the Blues fell to the Silver Knights 4-3, ending the 2017 season in heartbreaking fashion.
Davis could not deliver the runners home as he grounded out to end the eighth inning in a game that the Blues offense had ample opportunities to open up a lead.
“We put balls in play but couldn’t get the big hit when we needed to with runners in scoring position,” Blues manager Ronnie Palmer said.
Blues left fielder Logan Greene tied the game up for Bristol in the sixth inning. After the Blues had stranded seven men on base in the first five innings, Greene delivered a two-run single to tie the ballgame at 3-3.
Right after tying the game in the bottom of the sixth, Greene’s arm was tested in left field and he showed off his arm by throwing a dart to Blues catcher Josh Zbierski. Unfortunately, the speed of Silver Knights’ Luke Tyree just beat out the impressive throw by Greene as Ted Williams delivered the RBI to put the Silver Knights up 4-3.
“We grabbed the momentum in the bottom of the sixth inning,” Palmer said. “And you know Nashua got up and hit a ball to center field that we came aggressive at and we misplayed that to give them a base runner. I think Logan attacked the ball the right way and made a good throw and that could’ve went either way.”
The Silver Knights pitching was excellent throughout the game, stranding Blues base runners inning after inning.
Nashua featured four different pitchers throughout the game. Joe Westerman started the game and earned the win for the Silver Knights. Westerman was strong overall in the game but did have command issues as he issued three free passes to Blues batters.
In relief of Westerman were Cam Cruz, Collin Duffley and Jason Johndrow. The trio allowed just one hit but also struggled to find the strike zone with five walks combined in the 5 1/3 innings between the three.
As a staff, the Silver Knights walked a total of eight batters in the game, twice as many as the four hits the Blues batters connected on.
“They were making pitches when they needed to,” Greene said. “They were being pretty selective with their pitches by throwing on the outside corner and the inside corner and sometimes missed [the corner] that’s why they had a lot of walks but it also made us strike out a lot so effectively wild.”
Blues starter Malachi Edmond didn’t disappoint in the game.
He threw six strong innings but his offense couldn’t pick him up. Edmond allowed three runs and only walked one Silver Knights batter.
John Natoli and Jacob Wallace came in for the Blues in relief. Both Natoli and Wallace showed strong command on the mound but it was Natoli’s earned run that put Nashua up in the seventh inning.
“They battled for us man they kept us in the game every inning,” Greene said. “We let up a few early and they fought back and kept us in it for awhile.”
Besides Greene, the Blues couldn’t muster up much offense and most of the base runners came from walks issued by the Silver Knights pitching staff.
In a season that showed great promise, the offensive struggles came back to hurt the Blues in the elimination game as the pitching was there all night.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan