BRIDGEPORT — Central coach Joe Pagan calls it “the Bridgeport Curse.”
Pick an inning, any inning. The third, the fifth, whatever, at some point, things are going to implode as far as the Hilltoppers are concerned.
Against Ludlowe Monday afternoon, it was the seventh as the Falcons sent 15 men to the plate and scored 11 runs, thanks to five hits, three errors, a hit batsman and three walks as Ludlowe turned what had been a tight game into a 15-1 rout.
“That’s kind of been the story of our season, there’s that one inning where we just fall apart,” Pagan said. “I don’t know what it is, I call it the ‘Bridgeport Curse,’ it’s been happening since I played here, the fifth inning, the third inning, whatever, we just fall apart.”
Before that nightmare seventh, Central had been perhaps playing the best game of its season to date. When you consider that the Hilltoppers were 0-9 and were allowing an average of 14.5 runs a game, to have starter Alex Sierra hold Ludlowe to just one earned run in the opening five innings and trail just 2-0, had to be cause for celebration.
“He’s one of my guys,” Pagan said of Rivera. “He actually texted me today asking to pitch, so I gave him the chance. He’s one of the big parts of our team and he’s been a starter at varsity since he was a freshman, so I have a lot of expectations for him.”
And those expectations paid off over the opening five innings. A second inning, one-out triple off the bat of Ludlowe’s Chris Benton and a RBI groundout from Jack Knisely gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead and in the fifth, an unearned run made it 2-0.
“I don’t take anyone lightly in this league. Central battled us. Their pitcher, he threw great,” Ludlowe coach Mike Francese said. “He kept a lot of our guys off-balance. I’m glad we were able to put a few more runs on the tail end to make it easier but he did great. He kept the game close.”
As well as Sierra was pitching for Central, Liam Rosengren was even better for Ludlowe. He struck out the first five batters he faced and finished with 13 strikeouts, allowing just four hits and one run.
“This is what I’ve been expecting from Liam all season,” Francese said. “He got off to a rough start early in the season, not finding the zone but today, he did great. He pounded the zone, got ahead of batters and it equals what happened out there. He did a great job.”
“I just went out there trying to throw strikes, trying to command the zone and it worked for me today,” Rosengren said. “The fastball was working well. I didn’t have to throw much off-speed stuff, the curve ball was there when I needed it but the fastball was working.”
An RBI single from John McMillian and an RBI groundout from Derek Tallman in the sixth made it 4-1 and that 11-run ‘Bridgeport Curse’ inning in the seventh blew the game wide open.
“The only thing we can do is have them keep fighting,” Pagan said. “Keep doing their jobs and hopefully, we’re going to start stealing some of these games.”
For Ludlowe, the victory was its fourth in a row and fifth in its last six starts. It brings them to 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the FCIAC as they battle to grab one of the top eight spots for the postseason tournament next month.
“Everything is starting to come together,” Rosengren said. “We’re playing like a team, we’re starting to hit, we’re pitching well and we’re making our plays in the field. That’s all you can ask for.”
“It’s been a little bit of everything,” added Francese. “It’s all coming together. Guys are hitting the ball, we’re playing better defense but most importantly, guys are throwing strikes. We had a tough time early in the season just doing that, we’d always seem to give up a big inning that this is what we’re going to continue to need going forward, throwing strikes and having everyone contribute.”
“I’ve been preaching all season about making the routine plays. If we can do that, I know we’re going to be in every game. Today, we did it for the most part, but the offense has to follow. We had 13 strikeouts in the first five or six innings, no one is going to win doing that.” — Central coach Joe Pagan
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ludlowe pitcher Liam Rosengren. He struck the first five batters he faced, finished with 13 K’s. He allowed just one run and four hits in a dominating six inning performance.
LUDLOWE 15, CENTRAL 1
LUDLOWE 010 012 (11) — 15 9 0
CENTRAL 000 001 0 — 1 5 6
Records: Ludlowe (6-6, 4-4 FCIAC); Central (0-10, 0-9 FCIAC)
Batteries: Ludlowe — Liam Rosengren (W), James Flink (7) and Jack Knisely; C — Alex Sierra (L), Junior Traveras (7) and D’Zsan Livramento
Highlights: C — Joaquin Brasher had a hit and scored a run. Alex Sierra had an RBI single. Gilberto Villegas had a double. L — Vince Camera had a triple and scored two runs. Chris Benton had a triple and scored three runs. Greg Calabrese and Rob Farruggio each had two RBI.