BRISTOL - The Bristol Blues have reached the playoffs with a roster filled with young college players in their first season in Bristol. But for Alex Loparco, this isn’t new territory.
Loparco is finishing up his second season with the Blues and is proving why he earns recognition as of one of the team’s leaders.
On a team filled with youth, Loparco knows his role as one of the few veterans on the team.
“It’s weird, because a lot of these kids haven’t played summer ball for this long,” Loparco said. “56 games is a long season, especially on the end of the spring season. I just try to lead by example - show up to the field ready to play every day, which gets tough in a long season. I just try to focus on one game at a time. There’s a lot to learn from every at-bat, every situation. Just to not get too down on yourself, because failure is inevitable in this game.”
Though the Western New England senior doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other hitters, Blues manager Ronnie Palmer knows that having a player like Loparco on the team makes his job much easier.
“He comes to the park every day with the right attitude,” Palmer said. “He goes about his business the right way and plays the game the right way. He’s a ballplayer. I don’t care what level - Division I, II or III - he can flat out play. He competes his tail off all the time.”
Loparco has been playing his best ball of the season down the stretch - with hits in 11 straight games and 13 of his last 14 overall.
After a rough start to the season, Loparco thinks a change in his approach has been key to his production.
“I may have been pressing a little too much in the beginning, trying to do too much,” Loparco said. “I walked a lot at school, which I wasn’t really doing here at the beginning. But I think I’m seeing a lot more pitches and just trusting what I do every day. Not focusing on that struggle early in the season and just focusing on that next at-bat and next pitch to try to hit the ball hard.”
His hard work came to fruition in Bristol’s biggest game of the season to date Monday night. He helped lead the offense to a 4-0 win over the Pittsfield Suns in a playoff elimination game, going 3-for-4 in the game with a big two-run double that put the Blues up for good.
“All season, we’ve come back and been able to score runs in bunches,” Loparco said. “The special thing about this team is that we don’t quit.”
Since he will graduate from Western New England next spring, Loparco will not be returning to the Blues next season. He is unsure what his future might be on the field.
“This could be my last summer playing baseball,” Loparco said. “I’m just trying to leave it all on the field.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at email@example.com