NEW BRITAIN – After a 3-9 start to the 2022 season, the New Britain Bees looked like they were headed for another season toward the bottom of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. However, after a 3-1 win over the Worcester Bravehearts on Tuesday night, the Bees find themselves in third place and winners in nine of their last 11 games.
Second-year Bees manager Donnie McKillop cited quality pitching and timely offense as the main factors in Tuesday night’s victory, but it’s been the attitude in the clubhouse that’s been propelling his team up the standings.
“Guys are coming, getting their work in, and they are focused individually on getting better,” McKillop said. “But they’re also focused on having a really good time with their teammates and enjoying summer baseball.”
Playing sound baseball often leads to the positive team chemistry McKillop alluded to, which is exactly what the Bees are doing. They enjoyed a near-perfect final five innings on Tuesday to stave off the Bravehearts long enough for the win. T.J. Wainwright and Davis Hanson combined for five no-hit innings while striking out four and only walking a pair. The Bees’ pitching staff has allowed the fewest hits and earned runs in the FCBL this season.
These showings provided enough time for the Bees to string together three hits in the seventh inning. The final of which was delivered by star center fielder Joel Lara. Lara’s two-run double tied him for the league-lead in that category. He also sits in the top-10 in batting average and runs batted in.
Depth has also been a major factor this time around, according to McKillop. After a last-place finish in 2021, the Bees took on a bigger roster this summer to account for some of the late arrivals to the team. The skipper explained that the extra talent surrounding this program this season has allowed players rest, heal their bodies, and keep players fresh as they approach the dog days of summer.
The Bees were able to acquire more leadership on the coaching staff this offseason as well. Former Pittsfield Suns manager Matt Gedman joined forces with McKillop as an assistant coach for this 2022 campaign. However, McKillop wants more light to be shed on what he is calling his co-manager.
“Gedman has been a great vibe guy for us with a ton of knowledge about the league,” McKillop said. “He’s been a great leader. I have a lot going on personally, so he’s been a huge rock for the management and coaching staff. I get the title right now but we’re definitely co-managing this thing and having a ton of fun doing it. He’s been a huge reason for a lot of our success and what we’re doing.”
The Bees are back home for a pair on Thursday and Friday against the Westfield Starfires and the Bravehearts for the third time in five games.