2022 Team MVP

Winsted Whalers: Jay Torres

Torrington Twisters: Kyle Matthews

Blasius Chevrolet: Brooks Belter

Brass City Vipers: Dave Colella

Bethlehem Plowboys: Greg Campbell

Wolcott Scrappers: Mike Pepe

Canton Crushers: Ben Sullivan

Burlington Hunters: George Zaruba

Tri-Town Trojans: Austin Swanson

Southington 66ers: Pat Smith

Valley Ducks: Zach Royka

Naugatuck Nightmare: Angel Valentin

Amenia Monarchs Nick Reilly

Tri-Town outlasts Bethlehem in 10 innings to win second straight Tri-State title

Copyright Gerry DeSimas Jr Collinsville Press 8/15/22

The youngsters from the Bethlehem Plowboys refused to break on Monday night in game two of the Tri State League championship series against defending champion Tri-Town.

Tri-Town took a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning when Matt Troy ripped a three-run double to the gap in left/center field. But the Plowboys rallied to tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. In the 10th inning, the Trojans manufactured a run to take the one-run lead but the Plowboys looked like they might extend the game in the bottom of the tenth. Jon Wilson got a leadoff double and moved to third base on an infield ground ball. Wilson stood 90 feet away from tying the ballgame. But teammate Rick Descoteaux hit a rolling ground ball toward second base. Tri-Town second baseman Matt Troy charged the ball and threw out Wilson at home for the second out of the inning.

Two batters later, Tri-Town’s Connor Gannon coaxed Bethlehem’s Matt Mancini to ground out to second base to end the game and the Trojans celebrated back-to-back league championships after a 4-3 win in 10 innings over Bethlehem Monday night at Municipal Stadium. The Trojans captured the best-of-three series, 2-0. Tri-Town (23-1) won their third championship since 2018 and their fourth in team history.

“This is our best record ever,” Tri-Town manager Dan McCarthy said. “To come in as a favorite and still do it was special. We had a lot of veterans come in today and they were able to carry the young guys and keep us in the game.” Tri-Town made things happen in the 10th inning. Leadoff hitter Willie Yahn (2-for-3) singled and promptly stole second base – his second stolen base of the game. Yahn moved to third with teammate Mike Fabiaschi grounded out to second base. Up came McCarthy, who slapped a two-strike single down the first base line to drive in Yahn and give the Trojans a one-run lead. “I am not afraid of hitting with two strikes,” McCarthy said. “I was just thinking of putting it in play. A lot of holes were open and I got it lucky to get it past the first baseman.”

Bethlehem, making its first championship series appearance since 2010, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Matt Mancini grounded out to the first baseman and the Plowboys’ Greg Campbell raced home from third base, beating the return throw to the plate. Tri-Town threatened in the fifth inning, loading the bases with two outs but Plowboy reliever Keegan Daigle was able to get Troy to ground out to end the inning. The Trojans finally broke through in the top of the seventh inning. Three consecutive two-out walks from Daigle loaded the bases and Troy ripped a double to give the Trojans a 3-1 lead.

Bethlehem (16-8) responded immediately. In the bottom of the seventh, catcher Jesse Swartout led off with a double past a diving Yahn at third base. Jarrett Michaels walked and Ryan Reynolds loaded the bases with a bunt single. One run came in on a wild pitch and a second run came in on infield ground ball from Wilson, who was 3-for-5 with an RBI, to tie the game at 3-3. Tri-Town starting pitcher Bobby Chatfield went seven innings, gave up six hits and struck out four. Reliever Connor Gagnon pitched three shutout innings, gave up just one hit and struck out three to earn the win.

Both teams left 13 men on the base in the extra inning affair. Troy finished 2-for-4 with a single, triple and three RBI for Tri-Town. Yahn also had two hits, going 2-for-5 with a pair of singles. It was the first Tri-State championship series game to into extra innings since Tri-Town beat Naugatuck, 2-1, in 12 innings in game three to win their first league championship. The last team to win consecutive championships was the Litchfield Cowboys in 2011 and 2012. The Torrington Rebels once won four straight league titles from 1992 through 1995.

Tri-Town and Bethlehem deliver in Tri-State Finals

Copyright Rick Wilson Litchfield County Sports 8/16/22

Dan McCarty delivered. Matt Troy delivered. Connor Gannon delivered. And that was a few from the winning side. On the other side disappointed but not bowed in defeat, Jason Johnson delivered, Keegan Daigle delivered and Jon Wilson delivered.

In the end, The Tri-State League delivered.

Tri-Town nipped Bethlehem, 4-3, Monday night in a 10-inning drama-drenched beauty to sweep the best-of-three Tri-State League championship series at a rapidly chilling Municipal Stadium, two games to none.  The Trojans have now won back-to-back crowns having defeated Terryville a year ago and have won three of the last four titles.

The championship series always gives you a game; it doesn’t always give you a show. This time around a three-hour prime-time special emerged chafing the back of the legs from sitting on the edge of the seat and making the several hundred fans yearning for a bucket to show a little monetary appreciation on a night where all that was required was a little time.

Tri-Town and Bethlehem offered up some delicious contrasts. The Trojans are the veterans, a sweet combination of ben-around-for a while and haven’t been around long while bathed in titles (three in four years) and title series (nine in 12 years). It’s almost blasphemous not to see the pink camo shirts at title time. The Plowboys, their program rich in history, are the new kids on the block. A bunch of early 20-somethings loaded with grit, ready to rock, roll and member. They hunger for what Tri-Town has. Tri-Town unloaded in Game One, 10-2. Bethlehem refused to go quietly into the summer. Being there wasn’t going to be a soothing salve and the Plow refused to play the token opposition role.  So what we got was a whole lot of fun.

As the Plowboys’ Jon Wilson said after the game – “You won’t see a better baseball game in Connecticut this summer. “ Bethlehem made the Trojans take the title as it should be. Tri-Town accepted the challenge and delivered. Start with the Trojans manager Dan McCarty. He had rough night at the plate. Well, up to the 10th inning anyway.  With runners on first and second in the fourth inning and his team trailing, 1-0, McCarty grounded into a double play. One inning later and the score the same, McCarty grounded to the pitcher with a runner on second. In the eighth inning after the two teams had evened out, 3-3, McCarty stepped the plate with runners on second and third and one out and struck out.

All was forgotten in the 10th inning. Willy Yahn singled and stole second with one out bringing up McCarty. This time he grounded a high hopper over the first baseman’s head for an RBI single which proved to be the game-winner. “Willy did his job leading off and I said to myself that I can’t go 0-for-5 in a championship game,” said McCarty. “I said hammer it down. I wasn’t scared with two strikes and slammed it into the ground.” That’s all anyone will and has to remember.

McCarty delivered.

But he was just one of many. A little earlier in the eighth inning Matt Troy arrived at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and the Trojans desperately trying to introduce a runner to home plate. He rifled a rocket off Keegan Daigle into the left center gap for a three-run triple turning a one-run deficit into a 3-1 lead. He wasn’t quite done. In the 10th inning he turned to the glove. Wilson had led off with a double and moved to third on a ground out with Tri-Town clinging to a 4-3 lead. Against a drawn-in infield Rick Descoteaux lasered what looked to be the game-tying hit only to see Troy field the ball on one-hop and throw a strike to home to get a sliding Wilson.

Big-time with the bat and glove. Matt Troy delivered.

Connor Cannon came on in relief of Bobby Chatfield in the eighth inning with the score tied, 3-3. In the 10th, Bethlehem made him put up. After Wilson was out at home, Gannon plunked Joe Fainer with a pitch. His response with the game on the line? He ended the game as Matt Mancini grounded to shortstop.

 Connor Gannon delivered.

“Connor has been a workhorse for us all year,” said McCarty. “Matt Troy has been on the ball all playoffs. We don’t win without either one of them. “

The Plowboys came up a run short not because they didn’t have their own deliverymen. Jason Johnson, just off a superb freshman season at St. Joseph’s College in Maine, pitched four innings of two-hit, shutout ball to start the game.

Johnson delivered.

Daigle came in for Johnson to start the fifth and stranded a runner on second base in the sixth. After giving up Troy’s big hit in the seventh inning, he left the bases loaded in the eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts.

Daigle delivered.

Then there was Wilson. Three hits, 6-for 9 in the series. He drove in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning. He led off the 10th with a double. He gave the Plowboys. “He was phenomenal,” said McCarty. “We couldn’t get him out. “ He slapped the ball, he pulled the ball, he did everything.

Wilson delivered.

McCarty also had high praise for Bethlehem – “They played their…s off. “Rick (Coach Revere) has put a great team together.” Deep into the night you might have found some Plowboys and Trojans in the Municipal Stadium parking lot, sharing a pretty cool night.  Winning never gets old but either does an admirable battle.

Willy Yahn, just several months away from being released by the Baltimore Orioles, had a blast. This wasn’t professional baseball, but maybe it was better. “It feels so good,” said Yahn.” I’ve had fun every single time I’ve played. Playing next to Fabs (Mike Fabiashi) is a blast. And it’s great to show people who we are.”

Fabiashi, a former Oakland A’s farmhand, stopped playing for five years and then returned last season He’s two-for two for titles and was on base six times in eight at-bats during the series. This is special. “I thought I was done,” he said. “I played a lot of golf and I now have two boys, Gino, 4, and Luca 1. They were there for the first game and we celebrated dad’s birthday. This is all pretty special.” Teams and players delivered. But best of all was that the night delivered.

It was all pretty special.   

Tri-Town Trojans top Bethlehem Plowboys in Game 1 of Tri-State championship series

Copyright Peter Wallace Register-Citizen 8/14/22

The No. 1 seed Tri-Town Trojans (22-1) and No. 3 Bethlehem Plowboys (16-7) swept their opponents with a dazzling display of power in preliminary rounds of the Tri-State Baseball League’s post-season tournament. But Sunday evening, in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series, at Fuessenich Park, the defending champion Trojans were the only side still erupting in a 10-2 bravura performance of pitching, hitting and defense.

Veteran Trojan ace Miles Scribner (8 innings, 7 hits) kept Bethlehem in check after the Plowboys crushed the second seed Amenia Monarchs 15-0 to reach the finals for the first time since 2010. Former minor leaguer Mike Fabiaschi led the Tri-Town offense with a night that might have given him a chance at the Show if it came in the minors: 3-for-4, all doubles, 4 RBI. Fellow former minor leaguer Willy Yahn chipped in with another take-that for the pros with two more RBI while the pair looked like the MLBers they were at third base and shortstop on defense.

Scribner, in his ninth Tri-State championship series, said, “They’re the best left side I’ve ever played with. All you have to do is throw strikes.” “I’ve been preaching defense and pitching since we started; that’s why we win championships,” said player/coach Danny McCarty. “Our left side makes (second baseman) Matt Troy look like a minor leaguer, too, as quick as he is on the turn from them.” McCarty has led the Trojans to the crown three times since 2013. “It’s fun playing together,” said Fabiaschi. “It gives us a reason to play. Plus, we have some great younger guys. We all had good at-bats tonight to go with a lot of speed.”

Fabiaschi was the driving force as one of just two batters in the 10-man lineup, including an extra hitter, who failed to score in the Trojan rain of 15 hits against three Bethlehem pitchers. Yahn was 2-for-3, with a run scored; Austin Patenaude was 3-for-4, with a double, RBI and a run scored; Jon McNellis was also 3-for-4 with a double and RBI. “They’re good hitters and they put the ball in play,” said Plowboy coach Rich Revere. “Miles (Scribner) did what he always does.” The Trojans scored two runs in the first inning as leadoff batter Austin Swanson (3 runs scored) was hit by a pitch, Yahn followed with a single, McCarty drove a sac fly for one run and Patenaude drove in the other.

Isaiah Johnson (2-for-4, double, run scored) and Jarrett Michaels answered with a run in the second inning, but Fabiaschi stroked his first RBI double in the third, then did it again in the fifth to pull Tri-Town away 4-1. The Trojans were gone for good with a six-run sixth inning on doubles by Patenaude, McNellis and Fabiaschi, Yahn’s two-run single plus two walks. Bethlehem scored the game’s final run in the eighth on a hit by Jon Wilson (2-for-4, run scored) and RBI single from Ricky Descoteaux.

Game 2 comes Monday night at Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium at 7 p.m.

Tri-Town on top of “wide-open” Tri-State

Copyright Kevin Roberts Rep-American 6/26/22

The defending Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League champion Tri-Town Trojans are off to a good start again this season.

Tri-Town (8-1) grabbed a 6-1 comeback victory over the Valley Thunder Ducks on Thursday evening at Wolcott High School. The Trojans had to piece together a lineup to an extent, but those young pieces fit well. Joey Grantmeyer, 21, who was a catcher at Northwestern High, was in right field while Max Quinn, 21, who played at The Hotchkiss School, was behind the plate. Connor Gannon, 20, normally a pitcher at Western Connecticut State University, was inserted at second base. “I stuck him out there because I was missing my starting second baseman and starting center fielder,” Tri-Town player/manager Danny McCarty said. “He’s an athlete, and he had one hell of a game. Two hits, two stolen bases, and he had something like six assists.” Who plays for each team could very well depend on whether the game is during the week or on the weekend. “For weekend games, you might see more guys that can show up,” McCarty said.

Things have changed for McCarty, 34, and Tri-Town since it celebrated a championship on the diamond at Municipal Stadium. Longtime catcher Landon Gardella moved to Vermont. “I’m missing Landon because of his leadership, but skill-wise we have great people behind the plate,” McCarty said. “We’re always going to miss Landon because of his leadership and his experience. His presence was unmatched for sure for anybody in the league.” The league itself has also changed since last year. There are just 13 teams in a league that once had as many as 19. The Torrington Rebels folded, and the Terryville Black Sox left for the Connecticut Twilight League. Less teams mean more games against top competition, McCarty said. “Now with the shorter league, we play some of the top teams twice, so hopefully we can split against people and maybe take a series against people, and that will help,” McCarty said.

One of those top teams is the Winsted Whalers (8-2). Winsted is young but has some solid players, McCarty said. Player/manager Chester Warner is happy with the team he has put together, according to McCarty, who knows him well. “He’s pretty proud of this team that’s been put together, and they’re no joke,” McCarty said.

Tri-Town’s loss was to the Bethlehem Plowboys (6-3) by a score of 1-0 on Tuesday. McCarty said Bethlehem has strong hitters and is a fundamentally sound ballclub. The Amenia Monarchs (5-3) are just a win behind the Plowboys. “There’s still a good top eight teams that are still pretty good in this league, and it’s anybody’s ballgame, I think,” McCarty said. “It’s about finishing in the top six this year for the playoffs so you can get a bye, then you go to best-of-three series.”

Tri-Town will be in the mix because of the starting pitching it gets from Miles Scribner, Bobby Chatfield and Dan Livingston. There’s also veterans in the lineup like McCarty, Austin Patenaude and Casey McDonald who will help keep the Trojans going in the right direction.

Plowboys, Whalers see similarities in young teams

copyright Kevin Roberts Re-American 7/2/22

The Bethlehem Plowboys and Winsted Whalers have taken similar paths over the past five years or so in the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League.
Those paths met on Thursday evening at Gallop Field in a battle for second place in the league. Bethlehem rode the strong pitching of George Bielizna (six innings, four hits, five strikeouts) and a two-run homer from Matt Mancini to a 6-0 victory over Winsted. The Plowboys improved to 9-3 while “The Whale” fell to 8-4.
“George pitched very well. I was very happy with how he pitched today, then Kyle (Banche) came in and shut the door (in the seventh),” Bethlehem coach Rich Revere said.
Revere and Jon Wilson have rebuilt the Plowboys behind a strong youth movement. Revere sees similarities with the Whalers.
“It’s a younger generation for us, a younger generation for them, but both teams have stayed competitive throughout it, so it’s been good for both teams,” Revere said.
“Whaler ball three years ago was sparse and few in between. Now we’ve got a bunch of players,” added Winsted player/co-coach Mitch Gryniuk. “Johnny (Lippincott), our centerfielder, said last year was the most fun he’s ever had because it’s a great group of guys. And we started playing much better.”
Bielizna is one of several pitchers Revere can turn to. Jason Johnson went 6-1 with a 1.05 ERA, 43 strikeouts, 16 walks and a .191 batting average against in 11 appearances (eight starts) as a freshman at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. Johnson earned All-GNAC first team and all-rookie team honors for his efforts.
Kyle Banche, who formerly pitched for the Torrington Rebels, was added during the season. Revere believes his team is primed for a run at the championship, but there’s plenty of competition around.
“With Terryville leaving, there’s a lot more teams that are in it,” Revere said. “I’ve been watching the standings all year. Winsted, Tri-Town, Amenia’s always tough. Blasius added a couple guys, so they’re going to be tough this year. I think overall it’s more
competitive.”
Gryniuk feels Winsted can be up there as well. At times, the Whalers are the best-hitting team in the league, according to Gryniuk.
“We have some hitting, it’s just how consistent do we stay,” Gryniuk said.
Justin Morhardt is on the roster. He was a major power hitter in his time at The Gilbert School and was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels (2012) and later the Atlanta Braves (2017). Lukas Gryniuk, younger brother of Mitch, hit two home runs into the tennis courts in right field at Walker Field in his first game of the season.

The brotherhood of The Whale
Winsted has four sets of brothers involved with its team in some capacity this season. Three sets went to Northwestern High while one pair attended The Gilbert School.
There’s Mitch (Northwestern, 2016) and Lukas Gryniuk (Northwestern, 2017). T.J. Kent (Northwestern, 2013) played third base Thursday while younger brother Tyler (Northwestern, 2019) kept stats as a college intern. Robert Weiss (Gilbert, 2012) and Ryley Weiss (Gilbert, 2019) both pitch. Tony Pucino (Northwestern, 2016) and young brother Peter Greenwood (Northwestern, 2022) joined Winsted this season. Greenwood came on in relief of starter Austin Brochu on Thursday. Pucino can play both third base and shortstop.
Mitch and Lukas Gryniuk are competitive with each other.
“Lucas is definitely the power hitter. I don’t hit for power, I hit for mostly contact, sometimes they’re power shots,” Mitch Gryniuk said. “I like to say I have a stronger arm than him. I pitch.”
One thing the four sets of Winsted brothers share is camaraderie.
“It’s very supportive. Not all brothers get along, but our four pairs do. It’s kind of nice,” Mitch Gryniuk said.

Baseball an Old Passion for Tri-State players and commissioner Eddie Gadomski

Copyright Register Citizen Peter Wallace 6/25/22

TORRINGTON — Summer baseball.

For many in the Northwest Corner and across the country, the words are still synonymous. It’s as if summer and baseball were made for each other, with summer’s long languid days interspersed by occasional wild excitement and a game that can sometimes play out the same way. C’mon, we’ve got time, right?

So what better way to approach this weekend’s official start of summer than back-to-back long languid lunches with two of the pillars of baseball in the area: Tri-State Baseball commissioner Eddie Gadomski and Torrington American Legion Baseball general manager R.J. Poniatoski.

Gadomski came first, last Tuesday. Nobody represents baseball better than Eddie. “I let baseball take over my life,” he says at one point in our conversation at Torrington’s 99 Restaurant, praising his wife Lori for being the kind of woman willing to give and take the opportunities to “live our own lives” amidst the challenges and pleasures of a growing family and careers.

The fact is, despite ruing a few missed family opportunities as a result, Gadomski fell in love with baseball long before he fell in love with Lori, growing up playing baseball with sticks and tennis balls with friends on a Naugatuck funeral home parking lot. “The amazing thing is, people would actually come to watch us play,” he laughs.

For Gadomski, the crowds kept growing as he grew up to co-captain a three-year league championship run at Kaynor Tech after his parents, John and Donna, immigrants from Poland, relented in his sophomore year, allowing him to play for the Panthers if he kept up his grades. Learning to hit with a stick and throw a 12-6 curve with a tennis ball (too many broken windows with a baseball)? Training tools not many kids or their parents would go for today, but they served Gadomski well enough, along with old-school parental academic discipline, to earn an offer from Princeton. But Gadomski chose Mattatuck Community College (now Naugatuck Community College), where he again led his school to a championship in his first year.

From there, the love affair went to the Tri-State League and several other area adult leagues where he led Tri-State’s Thomaston Spoilers to a league championship along with his own MVP for hitting and pitching. “I played five games a week between the leagues,” Gadomski says. “I was the guy who held on. I played Tri-State until I was 41, then in the over-40 league until I was 49 — until my knees finally gave out.”

In the midst of that span, 2003, the same year he won the league MVP as a player, his peers elected him commissioner, where he led Tri-State from a six-team beer-league to a well-organized, disciplined high of 19 teams across the Northwest Corner and back to its current 13 after five of them dropped out in the COVID years. “All our teams are filled up and we’re still the biggest adult league in the state,” he says. “I get calls all the time from people wanting to play and we have one team, maybe two, ready to enter the league.”

Despite Gadomski’s longevity as a player, make no mistake. Tri-State has no bearing whatsoever to your dad’s recreational softball league. “It’s gotten younger lately — high teens to mid-20s,” Gadomski says while stipulating that newer teams and players are in it to learn from the veterans who still rule the league’s win/loss columns. “Some of our players — college veterans, ex-minor leaguers and even some ex-major leaguers are reliving the glory days. Some of the younger ones are using it as a stepping stone. Scouts have told others (like recently-released former Oriole prospect Willy Yahn) to stick around so they can keep an eye on them. “I played with (ex-major league Watertown star) Rico Brogna. His dad always told him, ‘You gotta play with the older kids.’ He was drafted in the first round by Detroit.”

And still, amidst all the league’s talent and hard-driven play, there’s the essence of summer baseball for most of them to consider. “As you get older, life changes,” Gadomski, the veteran baseball lifer says. “Marriage…children…work…Baseball is a chance to get away from life and its problems and just be a kid again, having a good time and enjoying the camaraderie. When I played, knowing I had a game that night made work much, much easier for me.” The joy and talent is on display most Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends across the area.

Tuesday, Gadomski texted a recap of a game between league leaders in which the Bethlehem Plowboys (7-3) delivered the defending champion Tri-Town Trojans (7-1) their first loss in a long regular season that runs until the playoffs begin in mid-August. The 1-0 Plowboy win at Bethlehem’s Gallup Field (seven innings on weeknights, nine on weekends) featured six no-hit innings by Bethlehem’s Matt Sibilia, then a gut-it-out Plowboy run in the bottom of the sixth on a pitch-to-the-shin for Jarrett Michaels, bunt single by Joe Rupe and RBI ground-out by Ricky Descoteaux. Yahn led off the final inning with a double for the Trojans, then got caught in a rundown before two more outs ended the game.

Thursday night under the Fuessenich Park lights, Torrington’s Matt Sokol and Blasius Chevrolet’s Brooks Belter, a former minor leaguer, traded no-hit first innings before the veteran Waterbury team (5-4) schooled the Twisters (3-6), one of the league’s youngest teams, 10-0. One of the joys of playing in the highly-competitive Tri-State League is getting back together with old friends in the dugout every summer.

Regardless of the final score, a cool breeze at Fuessenich Park in twilight, the smack of the ball on catchers’ mitts and wooden bats, the calls of the umpires..It was hard to think of a better place to be.

Some call that the essence of summer, at any age.

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