Tri-State Champions; Tri-Town Trojans

Tri-State World Series Another Good Show
copyright Rick Wilson Litchfield County Sports 8/25/18
The Tri-State World Series has always been a heck of a way to cap off the summer. This year was no different. With beaches reluctantly waving good-bye to its multitude of worshippers as schools and colleges summon, the Tri-Town Trojans and Terryville Black sox gave us a final memorable highlight to digest and ease the transition into colored leaves and cooler temperatures.

Tri-Town earned the right to call itself champion with a hard-fought 4-2 win in the deciding third game of a best-of-three final held Thursday night at Torrington’s Fuessenich Park. For the Trojans who have made the championship round more of an expectation instead of a hope with seven appearances in nine years, it was a well-deserved second title. But it was a series of shared highlights as the highly competitive ones often are and there wasn’t much that separated the two teams. Tri-Town lefty Charlie Benson kept home plate a mystery with a five-hitter in a 3-0 opening game win, outdueling another high-powered lefty in Ken Kerski.

However regular season champion Terryville was not about to go away easily. Despite going 14 innings without scoring a run and trailing, 6-1, in the seventh inning of Game 2, the Black Sox finally came out of their coma and it wasn’t exactly a groggy wakeup. A five-hit explosion in the seventh inning highlighted by RBI hits from Chris Callahan, Kody Kerski and Kyle Skidmore, tied the game, 6-6. After the Trojans showed a little of gumption of their own to score and go ahead, 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh, Tri-Town put a four-spot on the board in the eighth for a 10-7 lead. Tony Patane, Callahan and Skidmore again came through with run-scoring hits. That was more than enough for former minor leaguer Kody Kerski who battle throughout, striking out 14 while giving up 11 hits.

The loss of the big lead and the sudden emergence of the Terryville bats seemed to indicate a momentum change for the championship tilt. But, it didn’t happen. Once again the Trojans pitching was dominant, this time Bobby Chatfield teaming up with ironman Miles Scribner to silence the Black Sox bats with a three-hitter. Chatfield had said the night before he was retiring at the end of the series and proceeded take a title with him. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing just two hits no earned runs before giving way to Scribner who used his rubber arm to pitch two scoreless innings one night after going 62/3 innings in Game 2. “I was hoping to go tonight and hoping my arm cooperated,” said Chatfield. “I learned from the best. I did it the right way, Payton Manning and Michael Strahan, they went out on top too.” The Trojans broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly and huge RBI single from Dan McCarty. Like McCarty said, “I’ve still got it.” Who could argue with that?

The game was more than baseball as a lot of the league camaraderie was on display too. In a scary incident, Tri-Town’s Casey McDonald crashed into the left field fence at full speed after nearly tracking down a long shot off the bat of Patane. The ball popped out of McDonald’s glove as he crashed into the fence but that was secondary. Clearly shaken and injured, McDonald somehow had the presence of mind to pick up the ball and throw it back in, but then needed help off the field. Over on the sidelines surrounded by teammates and family and a concerned Terryville squad and woozy McDonald sat on a chair as teammate Landon massaged his back. McDonald’s elbow was clearly victimized and the ambulance eventually took him for tests. These are guys that come from work and get up and go to work the next day. They play the game for the love of the game not for the love of money. It was pretty evident the priorities here were spot on. While the mood sombered for a while, there was a positive impact. “It gave us a reason to play,” said McCarty.

Terryville had its own highlights beyond the disappointment with the final result. Billy Armstrong was the hard luck loser in the final game. Here’s the thing about Armstrong though. Just several weeks early he was nearly decapitated when a vicious, bone-crunching line drive off the bat of Bethlehem’s Will Gerski punished his cheek bone nearly knocking him unconscious. After significant time on the ground, Armstrong was helped off the field and went to the hospital. Plastic surgery may be in the future. But he was on the field and ready to go. On the field former Terryville star and Endicott College player Ian Schmidt had four hits in his last six trips of the series. Patane had four hits in his last seven at-bats.

In the end the two teams took it to the last inning and what more could you ask for. A lot of players were in the Fuessenich Park parking lot late into the crisp evening. They didn’t want it to end either. But again Tri-State sent the summer out in style.

Tuesday August 21
Game 1: Tri-Town Trojans 3 Terryville Black Sox 0
copyright Peter Wallace Register Citizen 8/21/2018
The Tri-Town Trojans took a 3-0 win over the Terryville Black Sox in the first game of the Tri-State Baseball League’s best-of-3 championship series Tuesday night at Fuessenich Park.
In front of a crowd of nearly 300 people in attendance to witness the hall of fame inductions of 5 former players in the Tri-State League: Darren Gould, Marc DiDominzio, Kyle Weaver, Ryan McDonald, and James Mischke; Two left-handed aces — Tri-Town’s Charlie Benson and Terryville’s Kenny Kerski — went at it in a game tailor-made for baseball purists.

“It was fun,” said Benson, whose 10 strikeouts offset five Terryville hits. “I’ve faced (Kerski – nine strikeouts, eight hits allowed) a million times. They have a lot of good hitters.” Some of them, like Benson himself, are part of a redistribution of the Watertown Blaze after that dominant team broke up last year. “It felt like I was facing half my teammates,” Benson said.

“Both pitchers threw well,” Terryville player/coach Dave Alarcon said. “We booted it around a little (one key error), but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you can’t score any runs.” It’s the game purists love: a showdown to see who blinks first.
Terryville’s blink happened in the fourth inning when Tri-Town player/coach Danny McCarthy drew a leadoff walk, coming around to score on hits by Sam Sherberg and Connor Murray.
The 1-0 Tri-Town lead remained for three more innings as both pitchers pounded the strike zone for one futile at-bat after another.

The Trojans’ Matt Troy showed the hitters’ frustration with a leadoff bunt in the top of the eighth. Kerski turned Shane Bierfeldt’s try at a sacrifice bunt into an out at third. McCarty then drew another walk. Then Andrew Prince put the game away with a shot past first base, scoring Bierfeldt and bringing McCarty in on the only error of the game for a bonus. “(Kerski) was throwing a lot of fastballs, so I gambled that I’d get one,” said Prince, who teaches and coaches at the Taft School after playing for Harvard University.
“It’s good to get that first win,” McCarty said. “There was a lot of pressure coming from behind against (defending league champion) Naugatuck in the semifinals.” Play-by-play/game-by-game pressure is the stuff baseball purists love.

The series (and pressure) continues tonight at 7 at Fuessenich Park.

Wednesday August 22
Game 2: Terryville Black Sox 10 Tri-Town Trojans 7
Copyright Peter Wallace Register Citizen 8/22/2018
The Terryville Black Sox came back from a five-run deficit to even the Tri-State Baseball League’s best-of-three championship series with a 10-7 win over the Tri-Town Trojans Wednesday night at Fuessenich Park.

Following a 3-0 Tri-Town win in a pitchers’ gem Tuesday night, Wednesday’s game looked like another duel on the mound on paper, with two of the league’s best pitchers — Terryville’s Kody Kerski and Tri-Town’s Miles Scribner — facing off. Instead, the Trojans jumped on Kerski for three runs in the first inning and another three in the sixth. “I was missing my spots early,” said Kerski, who rarely gave up more than two runs in the regular season. “I didn’t start finding it until around the seventh.”

That’s when Sribner started to fade, after giving up the first Black Sox run in the top of the sixth. Down 6-1, the Black Sox, one of the best hitting teams in the league during the regular season, put together five hits with two outs in the top of the seventh for five runs against Scribner and reliever Dan Livingston, then hammered out another four in the eighth to cement the lead after Kerski, with new life, struck out three of the seven Trojans he faced in the eighth and ninth innings. Black Sox Chris Callahan led the Terryville charge with a 4-for-5 night and two RBI. “I was as cold as I’ve ever been during the (Stan Musial) state tournament,” Callahan said. “In this game, you can warm up as fast as you can go cold. You just have to stick with it.”

That was the Black Sox theme of the night. Now, the teams play one more game, tonight at 7 p.m. at Fuessenich Park, for the championship.

Thursday August 23
Game 3: Tri-Town Trojans 4 Terryville Black Sox 2
Copyright Peter Wallace Register-Citizen 8/23/2018

The Tri-Town Trojans took their third Tri-State Baseball League championship with a 4-2 win over the Terryville Black Sox Thursday evening at Fuessenich Park.

After giving up a 6-1 lead in game two of the best-of-three series Wednesday night to tie up the set, the Trojans found themselves looking at another Black Sox come-from-behind effort when Terryville jumped to a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning after Tri-Town began with a one-run lead. This time, though, Tri-Town pitching held up, with veteran pitcher Bobby Chatfield allowing just two hits through seven innings and Miles Scribner allowing just one more in his two innings. That gave the Trojans time to rally — first with a tying run in the sixth inning on a pair of Terryville errors, then with two more in the eighth when Shane Bierfeldt led off with a walk, followed by two straight hits from Coleby Bunnell and Danny McCarty and a sacrifice fly by Sam Shurberg. The Black Sox tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth but second baseman Matt Troy made the defensive play of the game with a diving catch on a line drive shot by Kody Kerski.
“That changed the game,” Terryville player/coach Dave Alarcon said. So did Tri-Town player/coach McCarty’s decision to go with Scribner to close out the game. “I didn’t want them to see (Chatfield) for the fourth time. Scribby’s my guy,” said McCarty, who batted in the winning run in the eighth. “I just try to get my pitch,” said McCarty. This time, it got another Tri-State cup.

Copyright Rick Wilson Rep-American 8/23/2018
The Tri-Town Trojans came up with two runs in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and held on for a 4-2 victory over regular season champion Terryville Black Sox to win the best-of-three championship series, two games to one, at Fuessenich Park. Tri-Town was making its seventh World Series appearance in the finals in the last nine years and won its first title since 2013.

The Trojans had seemingly lost momentum when Terryville erased a big lead in Game 2 the previous night and went on to victory. Then in the championship game there was a scary incident in the fourth inning when Trojan left fielder Casey McDonald went crashing into the left field fence at full speed after seemingly catching up with Tony Patane’s fly ball. The crash jarred the ball loose from McDonalds glove and he had enough presence of mind to pick it up and make a weak throw to a teammate. But more importantly, he needed to be assisted from the field with a severe elbow injury that silenced the ballpark. An Ambulance was called and the game was delayed for 25 minutes as teammates gathered around McDonald behind the dugout until the ambulance came. Full conscious, he was taken to a nearby hospital.

The Trojans were neither impacted by the previous night or McDonalds injury. In fact it proved to be a rallying point. “Casey gave us reason to play” said Tri-Town coach Dan McCarty.

Posted in Game Recaps