BRISTOL - There was never a doubt who would be on the mound for the Bristol Blues in the teamâ€™s biggest game of the season. As the Blues took the field Monday in a single-elimination playoff game against the Pittsfield Suns, it was left-hander Michael Genaro taking the hill for Bristol.
For Blues manager Ronnie Palmer, Genaro was the only man for the job.
â€śWe set it up as far back as last week, or even a couple of weeks ago,â€ť Palmer said of making sure Genaro was his pitcher. â€śWe knew we were going to be playing [Monday] - it was going to be tough for us to finish first or second. But this summer, and even last summer, Mikeâ€™s been our guy. Heâ€™s pitched all of the big games. And every time heâ€™s on the mound, he gives us an opportunity to win.â€ť
Having the opportunity to be â€śthe guyâ€ť on the team is what Genaro has worked all season for.
â€śItâ€™s fun. Itâ€™s exciting,â€ť Genaro said. â€śItâ€™s fun when you play 56 games, you grind through that, after a college season. Sometimes you get through those dog days of July, beginning of August, and itâ€™s tough. But you do it for this - to get that one start. You live for these competitive games.â€ť
Genaro earned the recognition throughout the season as the teamâ€™s best and most consistent starter. In 10 starts this season, Genaro has a 3.57 ERA in 57 innings. His most impressive stat is that he walked just eight batters in those starts, giving him a WHIP of 1.13. That mark is the third best among all Futures League pitchers with at least 40 innings on the mound.
Put simply, Genaro is the closest thing a manger can have to a sure thing, especially at the collegiate baseball level.
The southpaw believes his track record and experience with the Blues made the job easy for the coaching staff, especially on a team with many pitchers going in and out of the rotation this season.
â€śPart of the challenge of a summer team like this - and the coaches have done a great job about it - you have 30 to 40 guys show up on May 28 and you have your first game May 29,â€ť Genaro noted. â€śItâ€™s tough figuring out where everyone fits and what roles they have. But I think me being here last summer helped them because they knew me and my job and made that easier for me and them.â€ť
Palmer believes his starterâ€™s biggest asset isnâ€™t necessarily his performance on the mound, but his attitude off it. He sees it as a sign of the person Genaro is, but also the quality of his coaching staff at Babson College.
â€śYou can see why Babson has a good baseball program,â€ť Palmer said. â€śMike carries himself with the right demeanor, both on the field and in the dugout. It shows his maturity. Even when heâ€™s not pitching, heâ€™s in the dugout with the guys, still checking into the game. So heâ€™s been a team leader for us all season long.â€ť
Genaro wonâ€™t get another start for the Blues this season unless they get by the Worcester Bravehearts to make the championship series. If he does take the mound again for Bristol, he will have a great chance to give the Blues another playoff win.
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org