MERIDEN — Jagger Duquette was the last pitcher the Platt baseball team needed to see on the mound Wednesday.
Already struggling to generate offense, the Panthers were blanked by one of the CCC’s best hurlers, 1-0. Bristol Eastern remained unbeaten (5-0) behind Duquette, who needed just 78 pitches to toss a complete-game CCC South shutout.
Platt, which scored only one run in two losses during a trip to Disney Wide World of Sports last weekend, fell to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the CCC.
Duquette, a senior right-hander, is 3-0 on the season after his third straight quality start for the Lancers. He kept the Panthers off balance all afternoon, throwing both his breaking ball and sneaky fastball for strikes.
Duquette allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out seven in a game that lasted all of an hour and 28 minutes.
Platt junior Wes Deno was the tough-luck loser, tossing an 80-pitch gem himself. Deno scattered seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five Lancers and didn’t walk a batter.
Eastern’s lone run was set up by a leadoff double that hit the left-field line in the fifth inning. The Lancers collect three of their hits in the frame.
Deno’s outing was the third straight solid pitching performance wasted by Platt, which lost in Florida to Wethersfield (2-1 in eight innings) and 2-0 to New York’s Canandaigua Academy.
“It just sucks,” said senior center fielder E.J. Dudley, who had one of the Panthers’ three singles. “I don’t know what’s going on. We just stopped hitting.”
Prior to leaving for Florida, the Panthers got off to a 3-1 start scoring 37 runs in wins over Wilcox Tech, Middletown and Avon.
“We need guys to step up and help us out (offensively),” Dudley added. “The defense and pitching is there. We just need to pick up the offense.”
Platt’s hardest hit ball Wednesday turned into an out: Tristyn D’Aniello lined out to third base to lead off the sixth inning.
Platt’s only serious threat to score came in the third when Joe Salafina led off with a single to left field. Eastern turned a double play, however, and Dudley, who singled and stole second, was stranded when Jake Baker flied out to right field.
“If we would have given Wes some offense, we would have won that game,” said Platt assistant coach Bryan McCarty, who was filling in for a sick head coach Tim Redican. “We had one chance there; just couldn’t get the timely hit.”
Platt’s third and final hit off Duquette was of the infield variety with two outs in the seventh inning. Cam Germe grounded slowly to short stop and beat the throw to first base. Duquette, however, struck out Aaron Nieves to end the game.
“(Today) felt pretty good, but I always feel good out there,” Duquette said. “Pitching is my thing to do. When I go out there, I expect nothing less than that.
“I feel like I’m in midseason form already,” Duquette added.
“He got the whole team,” Dudley said. “He had us guessing.”
By the time Eastern scored in the fifth, Duquette was in full control. Setting up his fastball with what he called a “slurve,” Duquette retired 12 straight Platt hitters prior to Germe’s infield single in the seventh.
“As soon as he gets you looking for (his breaking ball), he sneaks the fastball by you,” Bristol Eastern head coach Mike Giovinazzo said. “He sets up most of his pitches with his off-speed stuff.
“One or two runs is really all we’ve need so far this year,” Duquette said. “Our pitching has really kept us in games. All three of our starting pitchers have done a great job so far.”
With Duquette anchoring his staff, Giovinazzo has sat back and watched Duquette and fellow seniors Ethan Ryan and Trevor Mays get the Lancers off to a perfect start. Eastern has allowed just four runs in its five wins.
“When (Duquette) is on the mound, we are going to be in the game,” Giovinazzo said. “We didn’t hit much today, but one (run) was enough.
“You always like to get few more, but (Jagger) is the kind of guy who can make one stand up,” Giovinazzo added. “We were just glad to get that one.”
The only run Wednesday came in the fifth when Devan Jacques’ fly ball to left field kicked up just enough chalk to be called fair. A sacrifice bunt moved Jacques to third base. He scored on Andrew Lozier’s single to right field.
“That was hard to see,” Deno said. “I couldn’t tell much (from the mound). It is what it is.
“My arm felt great; I was hitting spots. (Duquette) just pitched better,” Deno added. “It’s tough. We definitely need to pick up our bats and start swinging better. Once we do that, we should be fine.”
Deno matched Duquette pitch for pitch threw four scoreless innings. The big right-hander had five strikeouts through the first four innings, and allowed just two singles until Bouchard’s double in the fifth.
Deno also worked out a seventh-inning jam, getting Eastern’s top two hitters in the lineup to pop out and ground out with runners on first and third.
“Offensively, we haven’t put it together in a couple of games now,” McCarty said. “We have to keep at it in practice; we’ll get it done.”
Platt will have plenty of time to find its offense. The Panthers aren’t in action against until after Easter Sunday, when they start a three-game CCC homestand. Platt hosts South Windor on Monday, Hall on Wednesday and Windsor on Friday.