Tri-State Baseball: A league to Join

NEWSFLASH: Watertown Blaze to play 2018 home games at New Britain Bees Stadium

Copyright “excerpts” from LitchfieldCountySports magazine October 1,2017 – Tim Gaffney

When Waterbury‘s Twi-Met League faded into the sunset in 2006, it was said that baseball was dying because kids didn’t want to play the game anymore. That’s just plain wrong. When young athletes get out of high school or college, they often want to keep playing baseball. They were simply looking for somewhere else to play. They found it. Without the Tri-State baseball league they’d have to turn to softball, golf or another activity. Those things are good to have, but they’re not baseball. Today the Tri-State baseball League, born in 1934, is 18 teams strong and boasts the AABC state tournament champion for the past seven seasons. The AABC Stan Musial East Coast World Series has called Waterbury, CT its home the past two seasons under the guidance of CABC president Tony Santoro and tournament director and Tri-State Baseball League commissioner Ed Gadomski.

National recognition for the league came on October 11, 2015 when the Tri-State Baseball League was inducted into the National Semi-Pro Baseball Hall-Of-Fame in Evansville, Indiana by Director Tim Turbin. The charm of the league is that it’s serious enough to make fans sit up and notice, while pure enough to leave room for the sheer joy of playing. The league embraces a wide range of talented players. At one end, it has talented youths representing both college and high school stars, some looking for that break to catch a major league baseballs’ scout’s eye. On the other end of the spectrum are wily veterans who still have the passion for the game.

Gadomski who took over the league some 14 years ago, has taken this league from a run of the mill summer activity to one of the most respected organizations around the New England area. The league oozes talent and has had their fair share of players go on to play at the next level in professional baseball. “I never envisioned the league being where it is today when I took over as commissioner in October of 2003,” Gadomski said. ”I am most proud of the growth of the league as a whole and changing the reputation of our league from being a doormat to a league now being used as a stepping stone for young players with a dream of playing in the major leagues.”

“On a more personal level, making a million-new friends is priceless,” Gadomski said. “Whether I go out to dinner, to the supermarket, or even out of state, I run into someone who recognizes me as the commissioner of the league. Whether it be a beaming old-timer, a current player, or past player whom I played with or against. The smile on their faces makes my day when we discuss the Tri-State Baseball League. A kid who lives down at the shore called about playing in the Tri-State league” Gadomski recalls, “There’s a league closer to you.” Gadomski said, ‘Yeah, but they’re not as well organized’ the kid replied. Organization and competition known as ‘real baseball’ is the allure the Tri-State Baseball League now holds, as evidenced by the all players from the recent past and/or who currently are in the league with MLB experience:

· Willy Yahn (Baltimore Orioles)

· Zach Risedorf (San Diego Padres)

· Mike Odenwaelder (Baltimore Orioles)

· Ryan Plourde (Chicago White Sox)

· Conor Bierfeldt (Baltimore Orioles)

· Jesse Darcy (Tampa Rays)

· Chris Blazek (Houston Astros)

· Joey Serafin (Chicago White Sox)

· Michael Fabiaschi (Oakland Athletics)

· Emmanuel Cruz (Cincinnati Reds)

· Pierre Lepage (Chicago Cubs)

· Brett Anderson (Texas Rangers)

· Justin Morhardt (Atlanta Braves)

. Zach Albin (Baltimore Orioles)

. Kody Kerski (Seattle Mariners)

. Brooks Belter (Tampa Bay Rays)

NEWSFLASH: Former Tri-State Baseball League all-star pitcher Pete Maki, who led the Tribury Turkey Vultures to the 2004 Tri-State Baseball League World Series, on December 6th was named the Minnesota Twins minor league pitching coordinator, replacing Eric Rasmussen, who was with the Twins for 27 seasons. Maki spent 6 months in 2016 with the with the major league club and has been pitching coach at Duke University since 2015 and was with Columbia University before then. Congrats Pete and best of luck!!

Parity in the league is also a drawing point for Tri-State. Each team (“town”) is allowed only 5 out-of-town players on their rosters keeping the league balanced and opportunities fair for each team. Throw in the allure of Old Timers Day games, All-Star games, a Hall-Of-Fame, extraordinary ball parks like Municipal Stadium (Waterbury), Fuessenich Park (Torrington) and Muzzy Field (Bristol), and a top-notch website making the Tri-State Baseball League an Example to Follow –or Join!!

The Tri-State Baseball League has had 9 different champions in the past 11 seasons.
2017 Naugatuck Dogs defeated Tri-Town Trojans
2016 Watertown Blaze defeated Naugatuck Dogs
2015 Litchfield Cowboys defeated Tri-Town Trojans
2014 Wolcott Scrappers defeated Tri-Town Trojans
2013 Tri-Town Trojans defeated Naugatuck Dogs
2012 Litchfield Cowboys defeated Waterbury Wild
2011 Litchfield Cowboys defeated Tri-Town Trojans
2010 Bethlehem Plowboys defeated Tri-Town Trojans
2009 Brass City Brew defeated Bethlehem Plowboys
2008 Winsted Whalers defeated Brass City Brew
2007 Torrington Rebels defeated Bethlehem Plowboys

Naugatuck Dogs – Tri-State League Champions

Game 1: Naugatuck Dogs 13 Tri-Town Trojans 2
The Naugatuck Dogs (21-4) showed off their power in Game 1 of the Tri-State Baseball League World Series smashing four homeruns (three in the first inning) en route to a 13-2 victory over the Tri-Town Trojans (17-6) at Fuessenich Park in Torrington. Game 2 (of the best-of-three series) is scheduled for Wednesday night 7pm at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.

Sean Miller-Jones led off the game with a home run; Kyle Murphy and Devin Murphy (home run, double, single each); Ryan Russell home run; and Mack Ciacciolo added three hits all for Naugatuck. Kevin Murray earned the win, tossing seven innings of relief allowing three runs with six strikeouts. James Crampton and Danny McCarty each had an RBI single for the Trojans.

Game 2: Naugatuck Dogs 8 Tri-Town Trojans 4
Copyright Rick Wilson LitchfieldCountySports 8/23/17

It was like Tri-State Commissioner Ed Gadomski had one gigantic, juicy bone in his hands the way the Dogs were ready to pounce. But these were Naugatuck Dogs and Gadomski was toting around one rather huge Tri-State championship trophy. Gadomski couldn’t get the trophy out to the field quick enough Wednesday night after the Dogs won their first ever Tri-State League title, 8-4, over the Tri-Town Trojans at Municipal Stadium to capture the championship series two games to none.

Winning never gets old as the Dogs reminded with their hugs, smiles, cheers, a hearty satisfaction and determination to get the gold out of the Commish’s hands. The title came on Naugatuck’s third appearance in the finals in five years, one of the previous two losses coming to Tri-Town in 2013. “We’ve won state titles and we’ve been here a few times on the wrong side,” said Naugatuck third baseman Kyle Murphy who contributed three hits including a two-run double in the third inning to the cause. “(Winning this title) is something we needed to x off the list. It’s all about being hot at the right time and catching breaks.” No doubt about the being hot at the right time part, but the Dogs didn’t really need any or many breaks. In the championship game they banged out 14 hits while in the opener Tuesday night at Fuessenich Park they let loose with four home runs while pounding out a 13-2 victory. This was about a stinging offensive surge. You don’t need too many breaks when you are beating the ball up and to all places while scoring 21 runs in two games. “We came into (this series) and played a hot team,” said Tri-Town’s Dan McCarty. “We play baseball and good fundamental baseball but we ran into hot hitters. Look at the scoreboard tonight. We got outhit, 14-4. We did as much as we could.” The Trojans (17-7) actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on the strength on an RBI double from Casey McDonald and a sacrifice fly from Steve Price. But Naugatuck was not invested into buying into any of it.

The Dogs put a run on the board in the second inning and went ahead in the third with two more runs, the big blow being Murphy’s two-run double into the left center field gap. “I was just trying to focus on hitting a line drive,” said Murphy. “I was happy to be there for that.” Finally ahead, the Dogs made sure they would stay ahead in the fourth inning with four more runs for a 7-2 lead. A leadoff double from Mack Cianciolo started the uprising and by the end of the inning there were four hits and an error in the books including an RBI single from Jeff Rustico. The Dogs had 10 hits in the first four innings, finding holes, gaps, openings and a lot of open green grass. That was more than enough for Lance Stephens who went the distance, striking out eight and walking just two. After the first inning, he was touched for two runs in the sixth but that was it. “I felt like it was midnight by the fourth inning, there was a lot happening out there,” said Stephens. “I hadn’t pitched since June, but, I caught a second wind. It is the first championship and it feels great.” Naugatuck (22-4) also got three hits and an RBI from Ryan Plourde and two hits and two RBI Rustico. Litchfield was led by McDonald with a pair of hits.

“This is the sixth time in eight years we have been in the finals. We have nothing to hang our heads about,” said McCarty. Meanwhile, Naugatuck’s bucket list just got smaller and there were plenty of championship smiles to go around. They also got the trophy out of the commish’s hands.

Watertown repeats as State Champs

The Watertown Blaze remain unbeaten at 24-0 as they knocked off Fedells Mechenics of the Bridgport Senior City League 12-4 to be crowned AABC Stan Musial State Champions for the second year in a row. Charlie Benson picked up his 7th win of the season going 5 innings, scattering 4 hits and allowing 1 run. The Blaze jumped out to an early first inning lead, scoring 5 runs capped off by a Chris Callahan grand slam. Tony Patane added 3 hits including a solo home run and Garrett DeLotto hit a 3 run home run to end the game in the bottom of the 6th inning.

The Tri-State League has now had the Stan Musial state champion for the past 7 seasons:
2017: Watertown Blaze
2016: Watertown Blaze
2015: Naugatuck Dogs
2014: Tri-Town Trojans
2013: Tri-Town Trojans
2012: Naugatuck Dogs
2011: Naugatuck Dogs

The Tri-State League sent 4 teams to the state tourney in 2017 (Watertown, Naugatuck, Terryville, Blasius Chevrolet) and finished the tourney with 3 out of the final 4 teams standing (along with Fedelles Mechanics of the Bridgeport Senior City League). Watertown and Fedells both advanced to the 2017 AABC Stan Musial East Coast World Series. Watertown and Fedells both went 2-2 in the World Series with Braintree, MA being crowned the champion. Watertown’s two winning games were certainly memorable:

Watertown Blaze 1 Bourne Mariners 0
Recap: In his first start in 2 seasons, Matt Quintana threw a complete game shutout, striking out 17 batters and allowing a lone hit in the 5th inning as the Blaze took game 1, 1-0. Garrett DeLotto had the big blow in the top of the 7th inning with a lead off solo home run that traveled an estimated 420 feet over the right center field wall. DeLotto also doubled in the game while Chris Callahan added 2 hits for the Blaze. Tom Farmer pitched very well for the Bourne Mariners going 7 innings, allowing 6 hits and striking out 10.

Watertown Blaze 3 Waterford Nationals 0
Recap: Zach Albin threw a no-bitter with two walks and six strikeouts. The former Baltimore Orioles farmhand induced nine ground outs during his gem. Former Orioles farmhand Mike Odenwaelder reached on an error to lead off the seventh inning and scored the go ahead on a bloop single by Chris Ayer that sparked a 3-run out burst that sent the Blaze on to victory.

Blaze closer Quintana signs with Bluefish
NOTE: Former Blaze pitcher Dom Severino signs contract with Bluefish also on August 23

Watertown Blaze closer and Siena College standout Matt Quintana was signed by the Bridgeport Bluefish on Friday August 18. Quintana, a Rawlings All-Region Second Team selection as a senior at Siena has been clocked running his fastball up to 93 MPH. The 2015 Siena graduate finished his college career with a 12-6 record in 82 appearances and a 3.31 ERA, acting mainly in the closer role for the Saints. His Senior season was his most impressive, sporting a 1.50 ERA over 60 innings of work, allowing only 37 hits while striking out 64 and issuing 14 free passes. After playing out his college eligibility in the FCBL, Quintana has spent the last 2 seasons playing for the Watertown Blaze of the Tri-State league after being recruited by former Saints teammate and Blaze infielder, Brian Fay. Quintana has been virtually unhittable the last two season with a 0.99 ERA over 49 1/3 innings of work, striking out 82 and issuing only 8 walks, while recording 13 saves. He won his only start against the Bourne Mariners during the AABC Stan Musial East Coast World Series throwing a 1 hit, complete game striking out 17 batters (in just 7 innings). These impressive numbers caught the eye of Connecticut coaches and General Managers and word traveled to the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League.

The 5’10, 170 pound right hander made his professional debut for the Bluefish Saturday August 19 against the New Britain Bees. He entered the game in the 7th inning, with the game tied at 5-5. The leadoff batter singled on a first pitch fastball before Quintana struck out the next 3 batters in order, swinging, to end the frame. Quintana then gave way to Vinnie Pestano and Manny Delcarmen who have a combined 12 years and 521 Major League Baseball appearances with the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. With his solid debut, Quintana earned the start today against the Bees at 3:30pm at New Britain Stadium.