Litchfield Cowboys win second straight Tri-State League Championship
Joey Serafin closes out Waterbury (copyright Litchfield County Sports)
Rick Wilson Talks Tri-State Baseball (copyright Litchfield County Sports)
Copyright Peter Wallace Register-Citizen 8/23/2012
The Litchfield Cowboys won their second straight Tri-State Baseball League championship Wednesday evening in a 5-3 win over the Waterbury Wild. “It feels great” Cowboy player-coach Dylan Stiles exclaimed. “I can’t say that one (title) is sweeter than the other; they’re both that sweet.”
“Like last season, we ground it out,” grinned player/coach Dylan Stiles. “We scored some runs tonight, but pitching was our savior.” As advertised, Litchfield’s Joey Serafin (9 innings, 1 earned run, 3 hits, 13 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 hit batters) and Waterbury’s Ken Kerski (7 innings, 3 earned runs, 7 hits, 10 strikeouts, 1 walk) showed the best of a pitching-rich league in Wednesday’s face-off between the left-handed aces. Waterbury bats touched Serafin early for hard outs. The first-year Cowboy adjusted. “I was trying to throw too hard again,” said Serafin, who spent three years in the White Sox organization. “I started mixing my fastball in with my curve and slider.”
“Joey pitched great,” said Waterbury coach Larry DeVito. “Ken pitched great, even though they got some hits off him.” Serafin’s adjustment kept the Wild off balance all game, with three exceptions. Litchfield combined six hits with three Waterbury errors in the third, fourth and fifth innings to build a lead that stood off all exceptions. After a combined nine strikeouts in the first two innings (5-4 Kerski), the Cowboys found their hits first. Stiles, Ed Pequignot (RBI) and Adam Claire (RBI) singled in the bottom of the third inning, 2-0. In the top of the fourth, Brad DeVito pounded a Serafin fastball over the left field fence, 2-1. “Hats off to (the Wild), they are a great young team” said Stiles. Litchfield was back for another run in the bottom of the inning. Karl Quist had the Cowboys’ first hit of the game in the second inning. Now, he reached on an error and made it around on a hit by Colin Dickinson and one more Waterbury error, 3-1.
Litchfield returned the favor in the top of the fifth. Kody Kerski reached second on a bad Cowboy throw. A ground-out got him to third and a wild pitch sent him home, 3-2. The Cowboys settled it for good in the bottom of the inning. Another infield error and hits by Mike Odenwaelder and Chris Beach (2 RBI) pushed the lead to 5-3. Serafin had the reins from there. “It was a great experience, getting back to real baseball,” Serafin said of his first year away from the pros. Now, he showed his heart on the mound. Two strikeouts and a ground-out took care of the sixth. A hit batter, a double play and a ground-out did the seventh. Kerski trucked on for two more innings for the Wild, just one over the minimum on a walk to Kyle Weaver in the sixth. Serafin wavered in the eighth, with two leadoff walks and a one-run error from his infield. Then, with Waterbury runners on first and third, he snapped back and won the championship, two strikeouts in a row and a line drive to right. “I thought that was the turning point of the game,” said Wild coach DeVito. “Runners on first and third, no outs. (Serafin) mixed his change and his curve and just painted the corners.” Kody Kerski took over for his brother in the bottom of the eighth. Serafin was good for two more strikeouts and the game’s final swing in the top of the ninth.
The Cowboys finish their championship year 22-6. Waterbury is 17-10. “We’ll be back,” said DeVito. That would be welcome. The 350+ fans at Fuessenich Park on Wednesday would be happy to watch this series all over again.
Kevin Murray (7.1 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 8 strikeouts, 6 walks, 2 hit batters) picked up the win outdueling Waterbury’s Jim Dimon (7 innings, 4 earned runs, 4 hits, 12 strikeouts, 5 walks) to even the series at one game apiece as the Cowboys held off the Wild 6-4. Litchfield’s Ed Pequignot and Adam Claire scored two runs apiece for Litchfield.
Ken Kerski was sharp as ever (7 innings, 1 earned run, 4 hits, 14 strikeouts, 2 walks) as Waterbury took the opening game 11-1. Fraz Kader (3 hits, 2 doubles), Christian Cuevas (2 hits), Ken Kerski (2hits) and Jack Dibiase (2 hits, 3 RBI) provided the offense for Waterbury.
Copyright Rick Wilson Litchfield County Sports August,2012
Fourteen cameras clicked away for at least five minutes at a bunch of Litchfield Cowboys Wednesday night, only a couple of them being wielded by the media. The rest of the paparazzi were a combination of wives, girlfriends and family members. And the subjects were not running away from the flash bulbs. Don’t ever think this winning thing gets old. It doesn’t. for that matter, nor does the losing, you just handle it better. But, Litchfield reminded us, there is no age limit on championship joy.
On an evening when the Tri-State League did itself proud one more time in front of an enthusiastic crowd, more than a smattering for sure, at Fuessenich Park, Litchfield outlasted Waterbury, 5-3, to earn its second straight Tri-State title. It was one of those nights that oozed baseball with a perfect sky and mild temperatures. Up above the field league Commissioner Ed Gadomski sat incognito in the last row of seats with a what-a-way-to-end-the-season smile on his face. You couldn’t blame him.
The atmosphere was one of a `happening’ that included a slew of well-known area umpires among them recent Tri-State Hall of Fame inductee Jim Shove and veteran umpire Lou Fracasso. Torrington Titans GM Sandor Stotland and former Torrington Twisters GM Kirk Fredriksson stood along the fence. The fans didn’t pack the entire house, but they made it hum for the night. And then Litchfield became the fat lady, singing the title song.
Litchfield doesn’t just like being the fat lady, the Cowboy’s revel in the role. Championships don’t get old, cellulite forever as long as it is singing the song. They forgot the feeling for a while, more than generation in fact. The Cowboys didn’t always wallow but they did always follow. There was a finals appearance in 1990 that ended with a loss to Amenia but prior to that the last title was tasted in 1979 when Jimmy Carter was calling the shots in the White House and brother Billy had his own beer. Last year, Litchfield put 31 years of frustration in the rear view mirror defeating Tri-Town in the deciding game of the best-of-three series, 7-2. There was a worthy three decade in the making scrum at the pitcher’s mound and player/coach Chris Beach took a pie in the face (the type wasn’t revealed). Beach referred to winning the title as “the best (feeling) in the world.” Kyle Weaver, the Moses of the team, having been there longer than anybody donning his first Litchfield uniform in 1995 glowed with satisfaction that he was there but also with watching the younger players enjoy the moment.
For all, the moment was new, at least on a post-high school level. The moment remained new this time around. Winning never gets old, right. The cast of characters was the same in many cases with a few new faces. The stars this time around were different. On the hill in 2011, it was Kevin Murray who was the man, finishing the season with an 8-0 mark. Lefty Joey Serafin made it his show this time with a three-hitter and 13 strikeouts. Hey, this guy spent three years in the Chicago White Sox organization and he was pumped about this one. Titles at any level, garnished by temmates that are friends not just friendly teammates are always big. Beach stroked a baby-soft single to right field for two RBI. Adam Claire and Ed Pequignot added RBI singles. A year ago it was Collin Dickinson with a clutch two-run double. Different year, some different stars, same results.
Litchfield took down the higher seeded Bethlehem Plowboys in the semifinals but looked a little cooked after the first game of the championship series in which Waterbury administered a bit of a spanking with an 11-1 victory. Defending champions defend. The Cowboys snuck by, 6-4 in Game 2 and finished the mission Wednesday night. Work beckoned Thursday morning and the summer was done. But don’t think it was another game or some kind of small recreation victory. Even in adulthood winning never gets old. We get older, but winning stays fresh. Twenty-five year-olds, 30 and above can still jump in jubilation, can still toss pies in the face, high-five, fist-bump and do everything else a championship demands. Maybe they don’t recover as quickly but they feel as good.
All you had to do was watch those cameras clicking Wed. night and note the smiling faces that were being waxed into perpetuity. Yeh, winning never gets old. Maybe just more appreciated. The Litchfield Winter will be a warm one. Like all of those smiles.