Bethlehem 3, Tri-Town 2: It didn’t take long for top-seeded Bethlehem to finish off its suspended game with Tri-Town on Thursday. Following the suspension of Wednesday’s Tri-State Baseball League playoff game, the Plowboys plated a run in the bottom of the 10th inning to finally defeat the Trojans, 3-2. The game was halted after nine innings on Wednesday due to darkness with the score knotted at 2-2. The Plowboys got right to work when the game resumed. After winning pitcher Tyler Erickson tossed a scoreless top half of the 10th, Aaron Granahan led off the bottom of the frame with a single and promptly stole second. Granahan didn’t stay there long as Matt Parlato followed with double to plate him with the winning run.
On Wednesday, the Plowboys fell behind the fifth-seeded Trojans 2-0 in the first inning, but cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning. Bethlehem (19-5, 1-1 playoffs) threatened several times to tie or even take the lead throughout the contest, but couldn’t do so until the bottom of the ninth. Eric O’Toole’s sharp single to left center off of Tri-Town reliever Miles Scribner tied the game at 2. Bethlehem (21-6, 2-0) now awaits the winner of the Brass City/Watertown contest that will be finished this evening.
Naugatuck 8, Wolcott 1: Timmy Lebel, two hits and four strikeouts, pitched 8 plus innings while dealing a no hitter through 7 2/3. John Tenn went 4-5 with 5 RBI’s, Ryan Russell went 2-3 with a single, triple, and two walks. Matt Cain and Kyle Faucher each chipped in with two singles and an RBI. Adam LaCapra broke up the no hitter on an infield single with two outs in the 8th. Omar Tavarez had added an RBI double in the ninth.
Brass City 8, Watertown 7: Mark Didominzio’s fielders-choice gounder with the bases loaded drove in the winning run in the 11th inning a Deland Field. Miek Padovani pitched five scoreless innings as Brass City won the completion of a suspended game from Wednesday that was tied 7-7. Steve Carosella, Justin McCulloch, and Padovani all singled to load the bases for Didominzio. Carosella finished with three hits and an RBI, while DiDominzio and Tim McCarthy both had two hits and two RBI for Brass City. Chris Ayer had three hits and scored two runs for Watertown.
Bethlehem 9, Brass City 3: The top-seeded Bethlehem Plowboys moved on to the Tri-State Baseball League championship series with a 9-3 win over the third-seeded Brass City Brew Saturday afternoon at Fuessenich Park. Nick Chiovitti and Matt Parlato each had two hits and two RBI for Bethlehem (21-4, 3-0 playoffs). Tyler Erickson picked up the win on the mound for the Plowboys. Steve Carosella had two hits and two RBI for Brass City (16-9 2-1 playoffs).
Watertown 12, Bristol 5: The Blaze knocked Bristol out of the Tri-State League’s double-elimination tournament with an steady stream of 18 hits in a game at Watertown’s Deland Field. Connor McEvoy (4-for-5, 2 RBI); Chris Comeau (3-for-4, two doubles); Jay Spear (3-for-3, 2 doubles) and Justin Froese (3-for-3, triple, 2 RBI) led the Watertown charge to runs in the second and third innings, two more in the fifth and four each in the sixth and eighth innings.
Bristol, 13-12, 1-2 playoffs, got two hits each from Dan Rosa (double) and Doug Beaudoin. The Greeners broke through for a run in the top of the seventh inning; then Matt Godbout hit a three-run triple in Bristol’s four-run ninth to finish the game and its season strong. The Blaze are 19-6, 2-1 playoffs.
Tri-Town 7, Winsted 1: The Tri-Town Trojans eliminated Winsted’s Whalers from the Tri-State Baseball playoffs Saturday in a 7-1 game that had all the makings of a three-act play. Act One was a superb pitchers’ duel between Litchfield’s Connor Murray (9 innings, 1 earned run, 6 hits, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk) and Winsted’s Adam Piechowski (6 1/3 innings, 4 earned runs, 9 hits, 8 strikeouts, 3 walks). “Connor kept us off balance. A few times, when we thought we had him on the ropes, he got out of it,” said Winsted Coach D.J. Reese. That happened early.
In the top of the first inning, Zac Tuozzo (2-for-4) stroked a one-out single to right, then reached second on an errant pickoff throw. Chris Davidson reached on another wild throw that sent Tuozzo to third with just one out. “When we knew we would be facing Adam (Piechowski), we thought we’d have to play small-ball,” said Tri-Town Player/Coach Andrew Osolin. Now, in the same situation against Murray, here was Winsted perched on the edge of breaking the game open early. Instead, Murray got ground balls for the next two outs.
In the second inning, with two outs, Whaler Dave Lumpkin came close to making Tri-Town pay for two more errors, first on his infield grounder, then another pickoff throw. With Lumpkin threatening from third, Murray fielded another grounder for the third out. Meanwhile, Piechowski and his defense blew past all but Nick Lahoud (lead-off single in the first) and Joe Bunnell (3-for-4, RBI) in the first three innings for Winsted.
Act Two in the game was Tri-Town small-ball, foreshadowed by Osolin. Trojans Dan McCarty (2 runs scored) and Steve Price (2-for-3, 2 RBI, run scored) started the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back singles. Kyle Osolin bunted them to second and third. Landon Gardella hit a sacrifice fly to left field, deep enough for McCarty to score a run that looked like it might stand a long time. Especially since Murray had his Houdini act down perfect on the mound.
In the top of the fifth, the Whalers put runners on second and third with two outs one more time, on singles by Nate Lapointe and Tuozzo, plus a passed ball. Murray got a pop-up to second for the final out, then pitched six straight groundouts over the next two innings. Meanwhile, clinging to their 1-0 thread, the Trojans starred in Act 3 — the back-breaker — in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Masterfully finding the right holes and the right breaks, it was the perfect offensive complement to Murray’s defensive wiliness. Starting with a walk to Casey McDonald (2 runs scored), the Trojans used hits by Price (RBI), Kyle Osolin (double), Troy Kobylarz (RBI) and Bunnell (RBI), plus two Winsted errors to score four runs, mounting what seemed, in this game, an unbreakable 5-0 lead.
“We saw a lot of aces at the beginning of our season,” said Price, explaining how Tri-Town’s hitters seemed to suddenly come to life mid-season. The practice helped. On the one hand, the Trojans became better hitters; on the other, more opportunistic. The seventh inning for them was both. For the second inning in a row, McDonald led off winning a full count battle with Piechowski for a walk. McCarty got on with an error that sent McDonald to third. Price launched a sac fly to center field, scoring McDonald. McCarty charged home on a suicide squeeze that turned into a straight home plate steal when Winsted’s catcher got in front of the plate.
At 7-0, with two more Trojans perched on second and third on a walk and a single, Winsted’s Don Crossman came in to put out the fire. By that time, despite eighth-inning hits by Crossman, Charlie Putnam and Joel Castillo (RBI) for the Whalers’ only run, the curtain was almost down on their season. “We got beat by a good team,” said Coach Reese, whose Whalers finish 15-11, 2-2 in the playoffs. “We had a tough loss to Bethlehem (4-3 in the 10th inning of a game previously postponed for darkness) Friday night. It made us all the more determined to just keep at them,” said Coach Osolin.
Tri-Town 10, Brass City 0: The Tri-Town Trojans did what they’ve been doing since mid-season, Sunday afternoon in the first game of the Tri-State Baseball League’s quarterfinal doubleheader at Fuessenich Park: They beat up on opposition pitchers while holding down enemy batters, this time in a 10-0 rout of last year’s champion Brass City Brew. “We weren’t the same team this year,” said Brass City player/coach Sam Sirica. “We didn’t have the same pitching and we didn’t have the same consistency of play.”
Nevertheless, the Brew (16-11, 2-2 playoffs), came into the championship tournament as the No. 3 seed among 12 qualifying teams, then won their way up to a chance for the finals in a winners’ bracket game with Bethlehem Saturday in the double-elimination tournament. The Brew lost a 4-3 heart-breaker, then ran into the white-hot Trojans Sunday to end their Tri-State season. “It feels good,” said Trojan player/coach Andrew Osolin, of the roll Tri-Town (17-10, 4-1 playoffs) has enjoyed. “You know (ace Miles Scribner) is going to keep us close, while guys like (Steve) Price and (Nick) Lahoud are on the bench arguing about who’s going to get the next home run.”
Sunday, that good Tri-Town feeling blew up in Brass City’s way. Scribner (7 innings, 2 hits, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks) and John Conley (2 innings, 0 hits, 1 walk) held the Brew to 2 hits for the game, while Scribner finessed and sometimes powered his way to a no-hitter for the first five innings. “It feels good to be back here (at Fuessenich Park),” said Scribner, showing no side effects to a slight hip flexor that tightened up before the game. “I haven’t pitched here in about three years. My arm felt good.”
Brass City’s Marc DiDominzio kept up with Scribner for the first two innings. Then, in the top of the third inning, with a wind blowing in from right field, Lahoud (2-for-3, 4 RBI, 3 runs scored) won the figurative home run argument with Price. Connor Murray, a pitching star Saturday against Winsted, played right field Sunday, taking Joe Bunnell’s last-in-the-order hot spot (Bunnell went 3-for-4 Saturday in the ninth slot), thanks to an extra Trojan hitter Sunday. Tenth in the order, Murray (2-for-4, 2 runs scored) hit a high fly to right with two outs in the top of the third. The wind yanked it in toward the infield; the Trojans had their first hit of the day. Lahoud took ball one, then slammed the next pitch over the left field fence. “We just started putting the barrel (of the bat) on the ball,” grinned Lahoud, explaining Tri-Town’s hitting surge since mid-season.
Regularly putting up double-digit run totals since then, Tri-Town learned not to trust small leads in the first part of its season. A 2-0 advantage wasn’t going to be enough for the Trojans Sunday. Brass City third baseman Jeff Fonti started the top of the fifth inning with a great defensive play for the first Trojan out, but then the cannons rolled. Bunnell reached on an error; Murray, Lahoud, Casey McDonald (3-for-5, 2 RBI, run scored), Dan McCarty and Price (2-for-5, 3 RBI) hit successive singles, trailing four runs across the plate.
Armed with a relaxing 6-0 lead, Scribner started the bottom of the fifth with the defensive gem of the day. DiDominzio, leading off, smashed a worm-burner back to the mound. In a near cartoon-effect, it smacked straight into Scribner’s lowered glove, backhanded, while Scribner instantly grinned from ear to ear, stepped and threw to first, then finally managed to stop smiling. The day had other good defensive plays; that was the one that said Scribner wasn’t giving anything up at all.
The closest the Brew got was in the bottom of the sixth. Brass City’s Eric Rovinetti dodged the tag on a bad throw to first. Then, with two outs, Scribner walked Justin McCulloch. Josh Coleman followed with the Brew’s first hit of the day, loading the bases. Brass City, often fearsome hitters against other pitchers, could turn this back into a ball game now. Not against Scribner Sunday. The inning’s final batter grounded to second for out number three. Then, it was nothing but fun for the Trojans. In the top of the seventh, Price got his catch-up homer, with Lahoud on board thanks to a walk.
Conley started the eighth for Tri-Town; he gave up nothing except a walk in two innings. The walk, to Coleman, leading off the ninth, turned into a dramatic defensive end for the Trojans. After a fielder’s choice first out, a grounder to Price at third went around the horn to Kyle Osolin at second and Jon Smart at first for a game-ending double play. In the meantime, the Trojan bats brought two more runs across in the top of the eighth, against reliever Dave Vadnai, on hits by Landon Gardella (2-for-4), Smart, Bunnell (RBI) and McDonald and a sacrifice fly by Lahoud.
Watertown 11, Naugatuck 4: In the late game of Sunday’s Tri-State quarterfinal double header, Watertown starter Brett Koliani went eight innings, giving up just two singles while getting lots of production from his hitters.
Connor McEvoy was 3-for-4 with a double; Chris Comeau, 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI; John Lovetere had a 2-run single; Justin Froese and Jay Spear each hit RBI singles. The Blaze, seeded No. 2 in the tournament (20-6, 3-1 playoffs), face No. 5 Tri-Town Wednesday, 7 p.m., at Fuessenich Park. The winner plays the No. 1 Bethlehem Plowboys in a best-of-three league championship series starting Saturday.