COLONIALS DRIZZLE 2-1 WIN OVER NEWARK BEARS FOR SIXTH STRAIGHT WIN; MOLINA DRIVES IN BOTH RUNS BEFORE 1,547 AT BWP
By JOSH CUTLER
PLANET VALENTI Sports
(PITTSFIELD, Mass., Saturday, July 9, 2011) — Wet weather can’t rain on the Pittsfield Colonials’ parade right now.
Despite a light but steady drizzle for most of the night, Pittsfield’s eighth inning rally and spectacular defense propelled the C’s to a 2-1 victory before 1,547 jacked-up fans at Historic Wahconah Park.
Winners of six straight contests, Pittsfield improved to 23-16 on the season, while Newark dropped to 19-21.
Pitching, Defense Tell The Story
The Colonials were anchored throughout the night by their strong pitching, getting six innings of one-run ball out of starter Miguel Flores as well as three shutout innings from their bullpen. Mike Zenko (5-0) pitched the seventh and eighth, picking up the win. Rafael Lluberes picked up his third save of the season and lowered his ERA to 0.69.
Flores dominated Bears batters until the top of the sixth, when a two-out single by shortstop Ryan Walsh brought home the tying run. Flores, who did not factor into the decision, allowed one run on five hits through six innings of work, walking two and striking out seven on 112 pitches (70 strikes).
Colonials Manager Jamie Keefe was happy with the effort of his crew, despite soggy weather conditions which persisted throughout the evening: “Everybody threw the ball well tonight. It was a good win, especially with the weather the way it is, the defense by both teams was really good.”
Equally as impressive on the other side was Newark starter Alex Smith, who matched Flores with six innings of one-run ball, allowing only an RBI groundout by Angel Molina in the first.
Keefe said that on nights like Friday, pitching to contact can be a great thing: “If you keep the ball on the ground and let these guys play defense behind you, good things can happen”
Molina Saves The Day Again
Tied at 1 and with one out in the bottom of the eighth, the Colonials began to mount their charge against Bears’ reliever T.J. Hose. Danny Bomback laced a 3-1 offering to the triangle in right-center for a double. After Bomback stole third, Billy Mottram walked, bringing up Molina. Molina tapped a 1-0 pitch to second base, but Bomback came in through the back door to give Pittsfield a 2-1 advantage.
Keefe continues to be impressed with the persistence of Molina, who despite his lack of power is still being productive: “He’s just trying to put the ball in play and make things happen. We’ll take anything we can get right now.”
Big Win Despite Soggy Field Conditions
Each team played solid defense despite an on-and-off rain that required the Colonials’ grounds crew to make adjustments to the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box through the latter half of the game. They poured absorbent material into the clay to soak up the drizzle’s residual moisture.
Keefe said that dealing with the poor conditions is just another part of the game: “That’s one thing that you can’t do anything about. The field is in great shape, the infield and outfield are taking water really well. We just struggled with the mound a little bit.”
Bomback went 2-4 and stole a base for Pittsfield, while Jose Martinez contributed two hits for the Bears.
Pittsfield will send ace Chad Paronto (3-3, 3.55 ERA) to the mound to try to secure the three-game sweep Saturday night, while Newark counters with Jesse Estrada (1-4, 6.38 ERA).
COLONIALS NOTES: The pregame ceremonies featured a tribute to Pittsfield’s yearlong “Lift Ev’ry Voice” program, and featured lectures on the history of Negro League Baseball by local baseball historians Larry Moore and Jim Overmyer. Governor Deval Patrick, who was scheduled to appear and throw out the first pitch, could not attend due to a scheduling conflict. Instead, a proclamation was read from the Governor’s office commemorating the event … A spectacular fireworks display followed the evening’s contest, despite the soggy weather conditions. Friday night’s extended display was intended to make up for Monday night’s technical difficulties.