NEW BRITAIN – The New Britain Bees and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs battled through a doubleheader on Thursday afternoon, and for the Bees, it was truly a tale of two games.
After blasting a trio of home runs in the opening game to knock around former teammate Kyle Simon and earn a 9-0 win, the Bees managed just two hits against game two starter Daryl Thompson in a 2-0 loss, allowing the Blue Crabs to take the three-game series.
Cory Riordan stymied Southern Maryland in his first start back from injury, while Thompson was equally brilliant in his 6 1/3 innings of work in the series finale.
“If they pitched against each other, it would have been a scoreless game,” Bees manager Mauro Gozzo said of Riordan and Thompson. “They had a lot of the same stuff.”
The Bees went right to work in the bottom of the first of game one, using the entire field to push across the game’s first run. Darren Ford led off the frame by lacing a double down the left field line, and Bijan Rademacher traded places with Ford after smacking an RBI double just inside the right field line to put the Bees ahead 1-0.
Two batters later, Jonathan Galvez crushed a two-run home run to left field to open up a 3-0 lead with still only one out in the inning. New Britain finished the opening inning with three runs, five hits and one rude welcome for Simon, who was returning for his first start at New Britain Stadium since being traded to the Blue Crabs last month.
The Bees continued to punish their former teammate in the second, tacking on another run after a leadoff walk and a stolen base for Ford, who came around to score on a pop fly single to shallow center off the bat of Jason Rogers. Three batters later, Logan Moore powered a three-run blast over the right field wall to break the game open in the form of a 7-0 lead, while the Southern Maryland bullpen scrambled to get ready, eventually taking over for Simon after his disastrous second inning.
“That’s always great,” Riordan said of the run support he received from his teammates. “No matter what, even if you’re up nine, you just try to grind through a few outs and put your team in position to win.”
The Bees continued their home run parade in the fourth, when Jared James pulled a two-out, two-run blast over the wall in right to stretch the lead to 9-0. Riordan and new acquisition Akeel Morris equaled the Bees bats’ dominance by combining for seven shutout innings to temporarily even the series.
“It felt good to put some spikes on again and go compete,” Riordan said. “Overall, I was happy to get us a win in the first one.”
Game two didn’t carry the same promising beginning for the Bees as game one. Starter Devin Burke ran into immediate trouble, surrendering a pair of singles sandwiched around a walk to send the Bees to bat facing an early 1-0 deficit.
Burke settled in after his rocky first frame, but the New Britain offense, so overpowering in game one, struggled to muster any sort of contact against game two starter Daryl Thompson. Rogers and Galvez worked a pair of two-out walks in the first, but through four innings, they accounted for the Bees only baserunners against the righty Thompson. By the start of the bottom of the fifth, Burke had retired 13 of his last 15 batters, but Thompson had retired 10 in a row, with a zero still hanging in the Bees’ hit column.
“(Thompson) moved the ball in and out,” Gozzo said. “He doesn’t throw it exceptionally hard, but he threw his offspeed pitches anywhere in the count and controlled bat speed.”
New Britain ended Thompson’s no-hit bid to start the bottom of the fifth, when Moore led off the inning by punching a single to left. It was hardly enough to rattle the momentum of Thompson, who responded by retiring three straight to maintain Southern Maryland’s narrow lead.
The Blue Crabs had their own leadoff hit in the top of the sixth, a laser of a line drive off the scoreboard by Joe Benson for a solo shot to give Southern Maryland a valuable insurance run.
Thompson couldn’t quite finish off a complete game, surrendering a one-out single to Moore before giving way to Mat Latos, who retired the next two batters to secure the doubleheader split and take the three-game series.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com