It's a sprint to the finish for Torrington in the FCBL.
SEACOAST: As the 2012 Futures Collegiate Baseball League season sprints to the finish, six teams are still battling for the final three playoff spots.
On Monday night, after having their entire weekend washed away, the Torrington Titans kept themselves in front of the pack of six with a 7-0 whitewashing of the Seacoast Mavericks behind another dominant performance by their pitching staff.
Tyler Dierke tied the Titans team record for wins in a season with his sixth of the year, matching the mark set by Gavin McCullough in 2011.
Dierke went six innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven.
His ERA, already in the ridiculous area, dropped to .068 for the season, second best in the FCBL.
Torrington jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second on an RBI single by Kevin Lum (2-5, 2 runs scored, RBI), a walk by Ryan Zielinski that forced in another run and a two-run single by Conor Bierfeldt.
Enough cannot be said about the summer the Torrington-born Bierfeldt is having.
He is third in the FCBL in both average (.358) and RBI’s (32).Most teams have seen him enough to have a plan at this point the Western Connecticut junior has stayed ahead of all of them.
Wamogo High School star, Mike Odenwaelder, made his Titans debut in style with a run scoring double in his only at-bat of the night.
Back to the pitching though.
Dierke is part of a starting staff that has three pitchers with at least five wins.
No other team in the league can boast of that.
Alec Palioca and Derek Richards have each earned five victories with 10 games left in the regular season.
Each should have at least one more start during the regular season.
What was impressive about Monday night was not just the reliable dominance of Dierke but the three shut-out innings Torrington got out of it’s bullpen, a weakness at times this summer.
Jordan Scheiner, who started the season as a starter, has settled in nicely in a middle relief role that has resulted in three consecutive scoreless appearances.
On Monday night, Rafael Martinez also threw a scoreless eighth inning in which he did not walk a batter, a huge plus for a guy with tremendous stuff but limited control at times.
Torrington native and former THS star, Pat Austin, recovered nicely from his last appearance in which he gave up an RBI single to Chris Shaw of Nashua in a scoreless game in the bottom of the sixth inning and was the losing pitcher.
Austin need not feel bad, Shaw has been punishing FCBL pitching all summer and leads the league with 36 RBI’s.
A scoreless ninth with two straight strike-outs to close it out put Austin right back into the mix as the Titans come down a very tough stretch over the next eight days in which they will play 10 games.
That includes three double headers in five days to end the regular season on Wednesday, August 8.
First up though on Tuesday night will be these same Mavericks, who will need some help to get back up to the fourth spot although they are just two and a half games back as of Monday night.
Jordan Lozzi, who has deserved a better fate so far this summer than his 1-1 record would indicate based on a 2.44 ERA, will take the hill at Fuessenich Park.
Torrington departs for the Island on Wednesday to take on the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks with Richards looking for his sixth win.
The Sharks have been a tough out for the Titans this season, winning all three of the teams meetings so far.
On Thursday, North Shore invades Torrington with a little revenge on their minds, having lost all five meetings with the team from the Northwest Corner.
A day off on Friday will be needed as the run of twin-bills starts on Saturday on the road against the last place Wachusett Dirt Dawgs who certainly would enjoy playing the role of spoiler down the stretch.
Sunday bring with it a trip to Brockton followed by the teams last two regular season home games on Monday night against the Sharks.
The 2012 regular season wraps up on Wednesday for Torrington in New Hampshire as the play two versus the Silver Knights at Holman Stadium.
Each game is a huge one right now for any of the six still in the hunt.
Stay tuned, it’s going to be a wild ride to the finish.