Pictured: The 75ers improved to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in Zone 3 with Friday’s win over Glastonbury at Palmer Field. (Photo by Marc Silvestrini)
By Marc Silvestrini
MIDDLETOWN — Back-to-back two-out, two-run singles by Ryan Michaud and Chris Carafeno keyed a five-run, fifth-inning outburst that propelled the Middletown Post 75ers to a 5-4 win over Glastonbury Friday in a matchup of Zone 3 rivals at Palmer Field.
The big inning buttressed strong pitching performances by Post 75 starter Brent Gilson and reliever Alex Mach. Gilson pitched six innings of three-hit ball, surrendering four runs of which only one was earned. He fanned three and walked one.
“I was getting swings and misses with my curveball, but mostly I was throwing my fastball and mixing in the curve,” Gilson said. “I felt pretty strong tonight.”
Mach closed the game, allowing only a soft infield single in the seventh.
“Our pitchers did a great job tonight,” Middletown coach Dan Botti said. “They did exactly what we needed them to do. Brent gave us six very good innings while throwing only 63 pitches. And Alex came in and closed the door on only 10 pitches.”
The pitch counts were important, Botti said, because the 75ers are scheduled to play four games in four straight days, a stretch that will test the team’s pitching depth. Since neither Gilson nor Mach exceeded pitch-count limits, both will be available as the stretch of games progresses.
The win improves the 75ers’ record to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in Zone 3 play. Glastonbury is 2-2, both on the season and in zone play.
Trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, 75er catcher Mike Garofalo sparked the game-winning rally with a hard shot past third baseman Luke Rafferty. Two outs later, with Garofalo now perched at second after a stolen base, Mach hit a screaming line drive to the base of the wall in left-center to plate a run and slice the Glastonbury lead to 2-1.
Glastonbury starter Myles Lushing then walked Rian Parker and watched the next hitter, Jack Konopka, reach base on an infield error, loading the bases with two gone.
That set up the game’s two big hits.
Michaud, a left-handed batter who will go on to play at Eastern Connecticut State, looped an outside pitch softly to left field to score Mach and pinch runner Spencer Misenti, giving Middletown its first lead of the game at 3-2.
Carafeno, the next batter, then roped a single to center field, scoring both Konopka and Michaud – who had stolen second – to widen the lead to 5-2.
“We caught a spark in that fifth inning and finally hit the ball pretty well,” Botti said. “We didn’t have a lot of hits tonight (five on the game), but we did get a few big ones.”
Lushing actually pitched a solid game for Glastonbury, allowing those five hits in six innings of work. Unfortunately for the visitors, four of the five all came in the same inning.
“I thought he did a great job tonight,” Glastonbury coach Mike Habzda said. “He had that one bad inning and that, unfortunately, cost us the game.”
Noting that his team is relatively young, Habzda added that he likes what he’s seen so far from his group.
“I like the way we’re competing,” he said. “Even tonight, after they hit us with that big inning, we didn’t put our heads down, we didn’t give up. We came right back and scored two to get right back into it.”
Drew Curto led off the Glastonbury sixth by drawing the only walk Gilson would surrender on the night. After Owen Peterson reached on an error, C.J. Butera blasted a double to the gap in right-center, easily scoring both Curto and Peterson to shrink the Middletown lead to 5-4.
Butera, however, was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple on a terrific relay from center fielder Owen Clancy to shortstop Tiernan Powers to Michaud at third.
Peterson, with an RBI ground out, and Jack Dolan, with a run-scoring double, combined to stake Glastonbury to its early lead as the visitors scored two unearned runs in the top of the third.
The 75ers travel to East Hartford’s McKenna Field for a 4 p.m. game Saturday against East Hartford/Manchester. On Sunday, Middletown hosts Windsor Locks/Windsor at Palmer Field at 6 p.m. On Monday, the 75ers hit the road to Glastonbury for a 6 p.m. rematch.
Glastonbury…002 002 0–4 4 1
Middletown…000 050 x–5 5 3
Batteries: G–Lushing and Connaughton; M–Gilson, Mach (7) and Garofalo. WP: Gilson; LP: Lushing; Save: Mach. 2B: G–Dolan, Butera; M–Powers, Mach. Records: Glastonbury 2-2; Middletown 2-1, 1-1.