By Robert Held
Coming off of a loss on Monday night, a long extra innings game on Tuesday, and between the cold weather and low attendance on those two nights the New Britain Bees needed a spark. That spark came with the help of 6,253 fans and students mainly from New Britain or the surrounding area.
The Bees celebrated their first ever sellout and Baseball in Education game of the 2016 season with a victory over the Long Island Ducks by a score of 5-2.
“The kids today were amazing. Hopefully we can get that throughout the year. But I feel that it does give you a little more of a boost, adrenaline, something that the majority of us are used to,” said Bees starting pitcher Nick Greenwood.
Even the Bees front office was happy with how the team’s first home stand went.
“We’ve gotten strong fan support, even in cold weather, had a fantastic opening day and are very excited to welcome our first sellout crowd today. We are looking forward to beginning our next home stand,” said Bees General Manager Patrick Day.
Throughout the season the Bees will be holding several Baseball in Education games with early start times of 10:35 am. This is done to appeal to school children in the spring and camps in the summer so those attending the game can get there early enough to enjoy most, if not all of the game that day.
The Bees next Baseball in Education game will be on Wednesday May 4th against the Sugar Land Skeeters.
Improving their record to 3-4 so far this season, the Bees did so in front of several schools from the Consolidated School District of New Britain. These schools included: Chamberlain Elementary School, DiLoreto Magnet Elementary School, Gaffney Magnet Elementary School, Holmes Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Northend Elementary School
Pulaski Middle School, Slade Middle School, Smalley Academy, and Smith Elementary School.
Students Connie Rubitz and Celeste Giliotti from New Britain High School performed the National Anthem. Superintendent of the Consolidated School District of New Britain, Nancy Sarra, even threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Greenwood had a phenomenal start, pitching six scoreless innings allowing five hits and two walks while striking out five. He improved his record to 2-0, and has not given up an earned run so far this season.
James Skelton led off the scoring for the Bees in the bottom of the third, when Jonathan Roof knocked him in with a double. Norberto Susini then drove Roof in with a double of his own, and later scored on a wild pitch to put the Bees up 3-0.
Susini hit a sacrifice fly to score Anthony Hewitt to put the Bees further ahead in the fourth inning. Greenwood then pitched out of trouble in the top of the fifth. The Ducks had runners on first and second with only one out, before Greenwood got Anthony Vega to groundout and Fehlandt Lentini to strike out swinging.
In the bottom of the fifth the Bees made it 5-0 when Skelton drew a bases loaded walk that allowed Kevin Rivers to score. That was the end of the day for the Ducks starting pitcher Darin Downs. Downs had a rough game, taking the loss to fall to 1-1 on the season. He pitched 4.2 innings, allowing five earned runs and seven hits with five walks and four strikeouts.
Bees reliever and Berlin, Connecticut native Anthony Marzi had a rough inning during the seventh. During his one inning of work he allowed a hit and three walks, including one with the bases loaded, that allowed the Ducks to make the score 5-1.
The Ducks scored the final run of the day in the top of the ninth, after Vega tripled with one out. Lentini then hit into a fielder’s choice, allowing Vega to score and make it a 5-2 game. Bees reliever Brandon Fry then got the final out on a pop up to the shortstop to seal the victory.
Considering how the game played out, Bees manager Stan Cliburn seems eager for a big, vocal crowd throughout the season.
“I hope we continue to get the fan support,” Cliburn said.