Watertown Blaze 3 Naugatuck Dogs 1
Copyright Tim Gaffney Litchfieldcountysports.com 8/17/16
It was just fitting that the two best teams in the Tri-State Baseball League, the Watertown Blaze and the Naugatuck Dogs would battle through a three game series before deciding a champion. Heck, the two teams combined to post a 33-3 record during the regular season with the Dogs handing the Blaze their only loss during the long summer of 2016. The season capped a marvelous year for the Blaze who had the top regular season record, won the state tourney, finished second in the AABC Northeast World Series, and advanced to the Tri-State World Series. Naugy also had one of the greatest seasons ever, fnished 16-2 on the regular season, finished as the runner-up in the state tourney, advanced to the AABC World Series, and earned a trip to the Tri-State World Series showdown against Watertown.
On Wednesday night, the Blaze got some stellar pitching from starter Charlie Benson and Matt Quintano and just enough timely hitting to be the last team standing in a 3-1 win at Fuessenich Park. “We have played an awful lot of baseball over the last month,” Blaze manager Jay Spear said. “Our guys kept battling. They beat a really good team over there.” After splitting the first two games with Watertown taking the first game by a 4-2 score and the Dogs coming away with a 5-2 win in game two, it came down to what is usually does in this terrific league, one chocked full of tremendous players, a one game take all contest.
The Dogs would strike first when catcher Jeff Rustico lined a home run to left leading off the second inning against Benson who went six innings, allowing just that one run on two hits. Watertown would get that run back quickly in their half of the same frame thanks to a lined RBI double down the right field line by Garrett DeLotto that plated Chris Comeau who led off the inning with the team’s first hit. Naugatuck kept pressure on Benson but paid for leaving the bases loaded twice, once in the third inning, the next in the fifth. Benson would maneuver his way out of trouble in those innings and in the sixth, he got a stellar defensive play from left fielder Chris Ayer who dove for a foul ball that he ran a country mile to get to. The Blaze would take the lead in the bottom of the fourth off Naugy starter Adam Neveski who went the distance for the Dogs, when the number nine hitter, Matt Paola lined a two-out single into no-man’s land between short and left field that scored Nick DeLotto who had single with one out. Watertown got a terrific sacrifice bunt from catcher Matt Calzone that set up the run scoring opportunity that Paola delivered on.
Neither team seemed like this was going to be the night that they came up with a clutch hit when it counted.
Naugy left those two bases loaded shots go by the wayside, as did the Blaze in their half of the seventh when they failed to score with the sacs full and just one out. Champions keep on fighting and in the bottom of the eighth, the Blaze got that all important insurance run. Nick DeLotto singled to left to start the frame and moved to second on a walk to Paola. With two outs, leadoff hitter Ayer came through with a single to left that plated DeLotto and handed reliever Matt Quintano a two run. Kyle Murphy led off the eighth inning for the Dogs with a shot off the left field wall for a double but was left stranded on third. Quintana, a Sienna University graduate who touched 93 on the gun in college, played for the Torrington Titans in 2013 and was the Futures Collegiate Baseball League Pitcher of the Year in 2014 as a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, lit up the ninth inning by striking out the side. “I was so pumped in that ninth inning,” Quintano said. “I really wanted that last strike out.”
It was another tremendous job by Ed Gadomski and the Tri-State Baseball League once again this year. The league, the best organized league we have here in Torrington, put on another great show in 2016 that ends with the World Series trophy belonging to the Watertown Blaze.
Naugatuck Dogs 5 Watertown Blaze 2
A complete game 144 pitch effort by Lance Stevens and the bat of Ryan Plourde sparked the Naugatuck Dogs to a game 2 victory over the Watertown Blaze 5-2 and forces a deciding game 3 in the Tri-State Baseball League World Series on Wednesday night 7pm at Fuessenich Park. Plourde’s RBI single in the first inning plated Sean Miller Jones and his laser-beam line drive Home Run into the Naugatuck River capped the scoring for Naugy who stay alive in the series. Three runs sandwiched in between, in the third inning, with the help of three Watertown errors provided all the scoring Naugy needed with Stevens on the mound in his 9 inning performance who finished with five strikeouts, five walks and one hit batsman and battled out of jam after jam. Matt Paolo scored a run, and had an RBI single (following a double by Chris Comeau) for the Blaze. Kyle Kennedy was the hard luck loser pitching extremely well and finishing with ten strikeouts.
The Torrington Board of Umpires handed out its annual scholarship and sportsmanship awards before the game started.
Watertown Blaze 4 Naugatuck Dogs 2
Copyright Peter Wallace Register-Citizen 8/15/16
The Watertown Blaze came from behind for a 4-2 win over the Naugatuck Dogs Monday night in the Tri-State Baseball League’s first game in a best-of-three Championship series filled with heroics, talent and a little bit of luck. Heroics began with Naugatuck complete-game pitcher Jeff Sturm, starting on two days’ rest after nine innings against semi-final opponent Tri-Town Friday night while Watertown starter Dom Severino struggled early, with the assurance that he’s part of a wealth of pitching talent leading the Blaze all season (just one regular season loss, to Naugatuck).
Naugatuck, one of the league’s best hitting teams, struck first while Severino was finding his zone. Ryan Plourde led off the top of the second with a walk. Jeff Rustico doubled to the left center field fence for one run. Mack Cianciolo singled in Rustico for a 2-0 lead. Naugatuck had one more hit in the inning, by Ryan Russell, but Severino found his legs, giving up just one more hit in the next three. Charlie Benson (two innings) and Matt Quintana (ninth inning) kept the Dogs’ hit total at four.
The Blaze clawed for a run in the bottom of the second on a one-out walk to Nick Delotto, single by Chris Comeau (2-for-3) and sacrifice bunt by Matt Calzone (RBI). Player/coach Chris Ayer led off with a single in the bottom of the eighth. Conor McEvoy bunted to Sturm on the mound. With a chance to catch Ayer, Sturm threw to second, missing the out by a millisecond. Tony Patane lay down another bunt, sacrificing the runners to second and third. Garrett Delotto dropped an RBI single into no-man’s land behind short for the tie. Brian Fay followed with a solid single for the go-ahead run. Nick Delotto capped it with an RBI sac fly to deep center field. Before that, Sturm had kept the Blaze to four hits.
Watertown’s Quintana came in to close the top of the ninth, with two strikeouts and one more piece of Blaze luck/magic/talent. Naugatuck’s Rustico screamed a one-out liner to the left side of Watertown’s infield. Tony Patane stabbed at it, redirecting it three yards behind to Ayer’s glove in left field while still in the air.
Blaze fans can also hope for a little more luck and more heroics to go with them.
The Tri-State Baseball League inducted six new members — Chris Beach, T.J. Campion, Donny Crossman, Dan Hamel, Jim Isaacson and Tony Santoro — into its Hall of Fame Monday evening just before Game #1 of the World Series. Write-ups and a photo from the induction can be found at:
Watertown Blaze Tri-State League Champions