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Bristol breaks through in ninth inning to beat Canton in Tri-State play, 6-1

Bristol catcher T.J. Wyrebek tags out Canton's Heath Cotton in the fourth inning of Thursday night's Tri-State League game in Canton.

Bristol catcher T.J. Wyrebek tags out Canton’s Heath Cotton in the fourth inning of Thursday night’s Tri-State League game in Canton.

CANTON, July 7 – The Canton Crushers baseball team came into Thursday night’s game with hopes of climbing back into the Tri-State League playoff race. None of the teams scheduled to face Canton in the final six games of the season have winning records.

The Crushers nearly climbed back into the race but their own mistakes held them back. Three Canton runners were thrown out on the basepaths while Crusher starting pitcher Taylor Riley was hampered by six walks, two wild pitches and by hitting two batters.

The Bristol Greeners tied the game in the top of the seventh to send the game into extra innings and explored for five runs in the ninth inning to escape with a 6-1 Tri-State League decision at Bowdoin Field.

Canton (2-11) is still in the hunt for one of the 12 playoff spots in the Tri-State League but the Crushers will need to start securing some victories. “We had opportunities to win the game but it just didn’t happen,” Canton player/manager Tom Dubois said. “It’s a tough one to swallow but we have to keep playing good baseball.”

The Crushers had their moments. Through six innings, Riley only allowed three hits. In the fifth inning, he worked his way out of a bases loaded jam with one out by striking out Reid Roberge and getting Jalen Benoit to fly out to the outfield to keep the game scoreless.

Spirito had a pair of doubles for Canton while second baseman Jake Bryant had a triple. Sean Bahre and Jeff Mulhall each had a pair of singles for the Crushers.

Bristol pitcher Tom Curtain struck out 11, including eight looking in Thursday's Tri-State League win over Canton.

Bristol pitcher Tom Curtain struck out 11, including eight looking in Thursday’s Tri-State League win over Canton.

But Bristol (6-7) wouldn’t go away. Trailing 1-0, the Greeners tied the game in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, Bristol catcher T.J. Wyrebek was grazed by a Riley pitch and took his base. Wyrebek moved to second on a wild pitch and scored the game-tying run on a two-out single from Roberge.

With two outs in the seventh, Bahre and Mulhall singled but the inning ended with Bristol pitcher Tom Curtain striking out Jesse McKay to end the threat and send the game into extra innings. Curtain gave up nine hits but he struck out 11 Canton batters, including eight batters looking.

“Tom has been a workhorse for us all season,” Roberge said. “He’s the MVP of the game. Without him, we’re not in the game at the end.”

Bristol broke through in the ninth inning. With one out, the Greeners loaded the bases on a single from Kyle Pileski and back-to-back walks from Riley. Bristol’s Jerry LaPenta hustled to beat out a soft infield hit to shortstop to drive in a run and give Bristol a 2-1 lead.

Noah Fradette followed with a towering fly ball to left field for a three-RBI double that cleared the bases. Fradette scored on a RBI triple from Tyler Cyr for a 6-1 lead.

Six of Bristol’s nine hits came in the final three innings of the contest. “We haven’t found our hitting stride in the last few weeks,” Roberge said. “Defensively, we were able to hold them off and give our offense a chance.”

Jake Bryant (12) and Jim Spirito celebrate after Spirito scored the first run of the game Thursday night at Bowdoin Field.

Jake Bryant (12) and Jim Spirito celebrate after Spirito scored the first run of the game Thursday night at Bowdoin Field.

Canton had an opportunity to score in the fourth inning. Heath Cotton led off the inning with a walk and he tried to score from first base on Jake Bryant’s triple to left field. But Cotton, who was waved home by Dubois coaching third base, was easily thrown out at the plate.

In the fifth, Canton had runners on first and second base with one out after singles from Bahre and Mulhall. But Curtain struck out Jesse McKay and got Ben Sullivan to fly out to deep center field.

Canton took a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Spirito doubled to left field, moved to third base on Cotton’s single and scored on Riley’s RBI single to left field. However, with Bryant at the plate, Cotton was picked off second base for the first out of the inning.

Bryant hit a deep fly ball to center field and Bristol outfielder Jalen Benoit looked confused. He turned the wrong way and began backpedaling toward the fence. All of a sudden, Benoit put his glove out in front of him, low to the ground, and caught the ball.

Unfortunately for Canton, Riley was past second base, thinking that there would be no way that Benoit could get the ball. Benoit threw the ball into the infield and doubled up Riley at first base to end the inning.

Canton returns to the diamond on Sunday when they host Amenia, N.Y. at 5 p.m. at Bowdoin Field.

NOTES: Spirito pitched for the Tri-State League All-Stars in the annual All-Star game on July 4 against the Torrington Titans of the Futures’ Collegiate Baseball League at Fuessenich Park. He pitched an inning in the Tri-State League’s 14-1 victory over the Titans. … Weeknight games are scheduled for just seven innings. All Sunday games are nine inning contests.

Bristol 6, Canton 1 (9)
At Canton
Bristol (6-7)        000  000  105 – 6-9-1
Canton (2-11)    000  001  000 – 1-9-2
Tom Curtain and T.J. Wyrebek; Taylor Riley, Jim Spirito (9) and Jeff Mulhall; WP: Curtain; LP: Riley (0-6); 2B: Spirito (C) 2, Noah Fradette (B); 3B: Jake Bryant (C), Tyler Cyr (B); HR: none

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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