Covington walk-off slam leads Raiders over Golden Bears, 12-8.
TORRINGTON: Back on April 13, in a win over Holy Cross, Torrington third basemen Kobe Covington had hit what appeared to be a long home run against the Crusaders that was called back when the home plate umpire mistakenly thought the ball had bounced over the fence for a ground rule double instead of a round tripper.
On Saturday afternoon at Fuessenich Park, Covington left nothing to doubt in sending a walk-off grand slam home run that nearly helped take down the buildings beyond the Naugatuck River as the Raiders came back with seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to beat Thomaston 12-8.
“We had been battling all day,” Covington said, “It just feels good to get the final hit.”
Torrington sent nine men to the plate as they battled back from an 8-5 Thomaston lead, built on a three-run third and four-run fourth.
Cam Cerruto started the winning rally with a leadoff single and moved to second on a walk to starting pitcher Tyler Troth. After a strikeout, Nate Manchester hit a fly ball to left that Matt Tehan lost in the sun, loading the bases.
Jason Vinisko got the Raiders within one at 8-7 with a two run double to left center and with just one out, Dom Sabia was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Frank Romanelli had relieved Shane O’Bar and induced a comebacker off the bat of Raider cleanup man, Ben Bonvicini but his throw to the plate was wild high and Manchester scored the tying run.
Romanelli got a big second out with a strikeout of Manny Rijo (3-4, 2 runs, RBI), leaving it to the junior who did not miss his chance to deliver.
“Kobe in unbelievable,” Richardson said, “People look at him and say he belongs on a football field instead of a baseball field but he’s a kid that goes to both fields and plays well. He plays hard and is deceivably fast for his size and he just gets good swings when it matters.”
In a game that pitted the Naugatuck Valley League versus the Berkshire League, a good sized crowd at Fuessenich was treated to a game between two teams that played with a lot of emotion, a certain amount of chippy play and an edge that points towards the making of a rivalry game if it continues.
“What a classic game,” Richardson said, “There was a little bit of everything in this game, a little bit of drama.”
The scrappy Bears had not lost all season coming in perfect at 10-0. Torrington had started strong but had dropped two of their last three.
Torrington went up with a run in the first on a fielder’s choice by Bonvicini but Thomaston got it right back in the top of the second as Taylor scored on a Covington error.
The Golden Bears, last year’s Class S runners up, tacked up three runs in the top of the third with the big hits a two-run double by Taylor and sac fly by Romanelli.
Down 4-1, the home team knotted things with a three run bottom of the third with Rijo, Covington and Troth all driving in runs.
The back and forth nature of this one continued when the visitors stretched the lead to four at 8-4 with that four run frame in the fourth.
Taylor was at the core of this rally as well with his second two-run double of the game.
Taylor worked into the fifth for the Bears before giving way to O’Bar after giving up an RBI single to Covington that cut the lead to three at 8-5.
That’s the way thins stayed as PJ Kilmartin settled the Bears after coming in with two outs in the fourth and getting the final out.
Thomaston would put runners on in each of the last three innings but could not put anything else on the scoreboard, setting up the dramatic bottom of the ninth.
Richardson had gathered his team before their final at bats and had a message for them.
“I told them that with the base running especially,” Richardson said, “That until we had the tying run on, your run means nothing. Our leads were very short, nobody was taking any unnecessary risks. These guys never give up, no matter what the situation.”
NOTES: Covington finished his memorable day with a 2-5 day that included six runs batted in.
If the schedule makers can, put this one down again for 2016 in Thomaston.
It’s worth it, it’s got a good feel. While not a league game, which are far more important to both teams, the cross over event was well worth it.
For the Raiders, who end a tough week with a 2-2 mark (10-2 overall), it’s a terrific comeback win that propels them into another challenging week with games at Naugatuck, St Paul and back home against Wilby.
The Golden Bears don’t lose any ground in the BL and still hold a three and a half game lead over Northwestern with Gilbert, Litchfield and Nonnawaug on the slate for this week.