Titans get what they need from a weekend with the Suns. Story by John Nestor
TORRINGTON - It's not desperation time but the Torrington Titans have a good ballclub and they need to start consistently playing like it.
They took a step in the right direction this weekend.
The Titans took a pair from the Pittsfield Suns over the weekend, capping it off with a dominant 8-1 victory Sunday evening at Fuessenich Park.
As it has been most nights, the Titans got a strong starting pitching performance in the win. This time it was Tyler Dierke (Kenyon) who pitched a gem, allowing two hits and a walk with one strikeout in seven scoreless innings.
The game was delayed about 10 minutes or so by rain in the area but it only temporarily delayed the inevitable, a great outing from a Titans starter.
Dierke faced only 24 batters and needed only 71 pitches to get through his seven innings. He lowered his already microscopic ERA to 0.68 while improving to 4-1 on the season.
"The starting pitching has been the same all year, it's been great," Torrington coach Misha Dworkin said. "And we got another great performance tonight."
Dierke was never in any serious trouble and added to some impressive totals so far this season. He has pitched 39 2/3 innings in his six starts and allowed just seven runs - three earned. Dierke has struck out 32 and walked only seven while allowing just 25 hits.
On Sunday he got just one strikeout, but kept the Suns off balance with an effective change-up, a pitch he has developed more and more confidence in as the season has gone along.
"The change-up has been my go-to pitch all season," Dierke said. "It has usually been my curveball at school but with these guys with better bat speed, my change-up has been a more effective pitch. I have been able to throw it for strikes and challenge hitters with it.
"It was a third pitch but being able to mix it in with my curveball and use it as a second pitch has been a positive for me. Having two good off-speed pitches is a really big plus."
With Dierke rolling along it was up to the Titans offense to put some runs on the board and they did so for the second time in two games with the Suns. Torrington scored eight for Alec Palioca (Wheaton) in an 8-2 win on the road Saturday and they put up another eight spot Sunday.
Aldo Ferrante hit his third home run of the season and added a double and scored twice. Kevin Lum (Cameron) had three hits and scored two runs and Kyle Murphy (Manhattan) scored twice for the Titans, who banged out 12 hits.
While eight runs every game is a bit much to expect, the Titans can win a lot of games if they can get going consistently on offense considering the dominant performances they are getting from their starting staff.
At 16-14 the Titans are just a game out of third behind the Seacoast Mavericks, who have played two more games. But Torrington is also just a game up on the Brockton Rox for fourth.
"I told the kids, I don't think we are a .500 team," Dworkin said. "We had a couple tough losses in the ninth and those kind of things happen, but we could be a half a game out of second right now."
As it stands, Torrington is just a game and a half behind the North Shore Navigators for second and have won the last three meetings between the teams. But the Titans can't keep following up wins against the Navigators with losses to teams behind them in the standings, not with the talent and pitching they have.
What it will ultimately come down to is the bats.
"It's all about the hitting, it's all offense," Dworkin said. "We gave up four runs against Old Orchard Beach and couldn't score four runs. We need one more hitter to step up, we need that third big bat in the lineup."
The third big bat would compliment Conor Bierfeldt (Western CT) and Ryan Plourde (Fairfield) who have combined for 10 home runs, 43 RBIs and 40 runs scored this season. There are some candidates for that extra big bat in the lineup with the latest being Ferrante, who started the season batting clean-up and is recently coming out of a slump.
In his last four games Ferrante has a double, triple and two home runs, production that would make the Titans lineup even more formidable if he can keep it up.
"We are missing that third big hitter and it could be Aldo," Dworkin said. "That's why he was batting clean-up to start the season. He hit a homer against a righty today which is a good sign and he has shown what he's capable of lately. Hopefully he can be consistent."
It remains to be seen if the consistency will come from Ferrante or someone else, but the Polk State College product is motivated.
"Hitting is very contagious. One guys sees another guy start hitting and it seems to rub off," Ferrante said. "Conor and I always joke around about I am going to catch up to him hitting homers, so I just need to stay with it, keep working."