BRISTOL, Va. – A big bopper for the Danville Braves knocked the Bristol Pirates from their first-place perch.
Mason Berne had three hits as Danville dumped the BriBucs, 3-1, on Monday night at DeVault Stadium.
Bristol (33-32) fell a ½ game back of Kingsport (34-32) in the Appalachian League’s West Division, while Johnson City (33-33) and Elizabethton (32-33) are still in contention as well for the two playoff spots that are up for grabs.
A night after a 10-8 victory over Johnson City put the Pirates in first place, Bristol failed to plate a run over the course of the final eight innings on Monday, stranded 10 baserunners and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Matt Morrow’s RBI groundout in the bottom of the first inning was responsible for Bristol’s lone run as the Danville pitching quartet of Alex Segal, Filyer Sanchez, Tanner Gordon and Albinson Volquez combined to hold the Pirates in check.
“It happens to everybody,” said Bristol relief pitcher C.J. Dandeneau. “You are not going to score 10 runs every game. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow for sure and we expect a good performance. .. It was just an off night and we’ll be ready [Tuesday].”
Danville (29-37) occupies last place in the Appy League’s East Division, but the Braves aren’t going to do anything to make things easier for the BriBucs as they try to play the role of spoilers.
“It’s the last series of the year and we want to go out with a bang,” Berne said. “We’re not in contention right now for the postseason, but we want to end on a good note. Tonight, the pitchers did their job and we took advantage of some opportunities to score some runs.”
A 6-foot-3, 225-pound second-year pro out of UNC-Wilmington, Berne had a RBI single during a two-run sixth inning as the Braves took the lead for good.
Danville had the Appy League’s 2019 player of the year (Bryce Ball) and 2019 pitcher of the year (Mitch Stallings), but both those guys were promoted to the Low-A Rome Braves earlier this month.
“We’ve still got a lot of talent on this team,” Berne said. “We have a lot of strong arms and we also compete day in and day out.”
Josh Bissonette and Daniel Rivero each had two hits for Bristol, while Dandeneau struck out three in crafting 3 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Dandeneau pitched in the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons for the University of Connecticut Huskies and is relishing the vibe created by a pennant race.
“Those games at Johnson City over the weekend felt like playoff games,” Dandeneau said. “It’s the same kind of atmosphere as being in a [NCAA] regional at school. It gets down to this part of the season and you can just feel it. Whether there are 200 fans or 5,000 fans, you feel that atmosphere and it is fun being in that situation.”
NOTES: Bristol needs just one more victory to clinch its first winning season since 2008. … The Pirates are 2-2 against Danville this season. … Former Blacksburg High School and Carson-Newman University standout Ethan Goforth had a ninth-inning single for the BriBucs. … A crowd of 425 was on hand. … Domingo Robles was the starting pitcher on Opening Night for the Bristol Pirates in 2017. He crafted a complete-game shutout for the Class AA Altoona Curve on Monday night. … Bristol hosts Danville again today at 6:30 p.m.