NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain Beesâ€™ offense struggled to find its rhythm against Sugar Land Skeeters pitcher Mitch Talbot, suffering a 5-0 loss in the first game of a two-game series Tuesday afternoon at New Britain Stadium.
The Bees struck out 10 times in the game and had just six hits.
â€śWe lead the league in strikeouts,â€ť New Britain manager Stan Cliburn said. â€śWeâ€™ve been there all year. Iâ€™ve addressed it and addressed it about the strikeouts and that youâ€™ve got to cut down on them.â€ť
Talbot dazzled in his six innings of work. He pounded the strike zone all game and did not walk a batter.
â€śUsually when you go six and put up a shutout, itâ€™s usually getting strike one and leaving the ball down in the zone,â€ť the Beesâ€™ James Skelton said. â€śAnd I think thatâ€™s what he did well starting early on in the game.â€ť
Talbotâ€™s biggest challenge came in the fourth inning. Jovan Rosa led off the frame with an infield single and Jamar Walton followed with a base hit to right field, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
But Talbot struck out Jon Griffin and Craig Maddox before Conor Bierfeldt grounded into a fielderâ€™s choice to end the inning.
â€śOur pitching has carried us for most of the season. I feel that offensively we need to come through when we have the opportunities with runners on base,â€ť Rosa said.
â€śWe have to find a way to get the job done and put the ball in play. As a group we strike out quite a bit. We need to work on that. Hopefully we can get it all together.â€ť
Talbot finished with seven strikeouts in earning the win.
â€śWhen you get your fastball you got to handle it,â€ť Cliburn said. â€śYou canâ€™t foul it off and you canâ€™t swing through it. Good pitchers like Talbot will see that and come back with their changeups and breaking balls.â€ť
New Britain starting pitcher Nick Greenwood looked strong in his first three innings. But in the fourth inning, he gave up three runs after getting the first two outs.
The rally started with a two-out walk to Wilfredo Rodriguez. Then Bryan Pounds doubled and Caleb Ramsey hit a two-run single for a 3-0 Skeeters lead.
The mess continued as Albert Cordero singled and Joe Benson delivered an RBI single for a 4-0 lead. Josh Prince connected on a single to left field for Sugar Landâ€™s fifth straight hit before Greenwood struck out Anthony Giansanti to end the inning.
â€śHe probably just left a few balls up,â€ť Skelton said. â€śThatâ€™s usually what happens when you have a longer inning.â€ť
Greenwood pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits and three walks. He was charged with the loss.
The New Britain bullpen combined for 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, only allowing one hit and striking out four batters.
The loss is the first time the Bees have been shut out at home since June 7 against Long Island.
With the loss, New Britain drops to 36-64 overall on the season and 10-20 in the second half.
The Bees play the Skeeters at home again tonight at 6:35 p.m.
â€śWeâ€™ve got 40 games left,â€ť Cliburn said. â€śOut of those 40 games weâ€™re going to probably have to win 29 or 30 of them. But weâ€™ve got to get going and itâ€™s got to start [tonight].â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ , or On Twitter: @OrencoleDan