Raiders drop 2-1 decision to Seymour in NVL Title game.
Torrington's Sydney Matzko was her usual brilliant self with a 15 strikeout effort but fell just short of a second straight NVL Tournament title with a 2-1 loss to Seymour.
TORRINGTON: In the big picture of things, it meant something but not everything to a team that has bigger goals in mind.
The Seymour Wildcats scored two runs without the benefit of a hit in the fifth inning of the Naugatuck Valley League Championship against rival Torrington then hung on with some clutch last of the seventh pitching to take back the title from the Raiders by a 2-1 score.
“It’s two pretty good teams battling it out.” Seymour head coach Ken Pereiras said. “We like to think we can play with anyone and play with a lot of confidence.”
The Raiders had taken the crown back up Route 8 a year ago and had won the first meeting between the two powerhouses in Seymour by a 6-1 score in week two of the season.
It would be the only loss for the Wildcats this year while the Raiders sailed to a 19-0 mark and a bye in the upcoming Class L State Tournament which gets underway on Monday, June 2.
Winning a game like this with the trophy that goes along with it would be great but the Raiders are looking to make a deep run into the states and a loss like this just might help them up their game.
In a game that featured two powerful pitchers, Sydney Matzko (15 K’s) for Torrington and Raeanne Geffert (11 K’s) dealing as they were, it was going to take something more than a long ball to get anything on the scoreboard.
Matzko, who Pereiras called the best pitcher in the State, and her Raider teammates faced a dilemma most of this season. They were not able to play in many close games and could not find anyone willing to take a potential loss at the hands of Matzko that would hurt that teams post season rankings.
You had to know this would be one of those close, hard fought, who-makes-the-first-mistake kind of games and it was.
One expected this kind of power performance from Matzko, what you saw from Geffert was more than you may have thought.
The sophomore hurler was simply brilliant at times, striking out seven of nine batters during a three inning stretch from the second to fourth innings. She would retire 13 straight in the middle innings.
Matzko meanwhile, worked out of trouble in the first and third innings but a hitless but not uneventful top of the sixth inning broke the ice for the Wildcats.
With one out in the frame, Miranda Zygmunt hit a bouncer back to the mound that seemed innocent enough until it bounced off Matzko’s glove and behind the lefty hurler.
By the time the senior star recovered the ball, her throw was off line and got past first for an error.
Left fielder Laura Dieckman tried to move the runner up to second with a bunt but was hit by the pitch instead.
One of the NVL’s top hitters, leadoff batter Katie Petroski was next but before she could do any damage, the senior was drilled in the lower back, loading the bases with one out.
Getting runners home from third with less than two outs would prove to be an important piece of the story of this game.
Seymour second baseman Shari Minalga, just a freshman, would get a bunt down the first base line that was fielded by Raider Sara Heath but her attempted force play at the plate was too late to get Zygmunt and the Wildcats were on the board first.
Geffert would help herself with a run scoring RBI groundout to short that scored Dieckman for the 2-0 lead.
With how well the sophomore was hurling and how quiet the Torrington bats had been to that point, you had a feeling things might end that way but the Raiders fought back in the bottom of the sixth.
Their eighth place hitter, Alexa Potter, launched a blast to deep right center that landed her on third with a leadoff triple.
One out later, Brittany Anderson would ground a single to left, scoring Potter and bring life back to the Torrington bench.
Anderson would steal second but Geffert would buckle down, getting Nicole Jamieson to fly to center and Matzko swinging for the third out.
Matzko finished her work on the mound in the seventh with two more strikeouts, bringing up a bottom of the seventh that delivered on the promise of suspense and excitement.
With one out, senior Sam Pelow singled to left, as did freshman Alexis Tyrell with her turn.
When senior Sara Heath worked out a walk, the Raiders were a single away from keeping the title one more year.
It was clearly gut-check time for Geffert as she faced the same Potter who had just launched a long triple the inning before.
This time though, Geffert won the battle with some serious heat, striking out the Raider left fielder for the second out.
“Maybe I should have put the squeeze on it that spot.” Torrington head coach Maryann Musselman said, “That’s on me, I need to get that run home and then keep playing if we need to.
Junior Brittany Young was Torrington’s last chance but Geffert reared back and found a little extra and when Young waved at the third strike, the celebration was on for the Wildcats and thinking about next week was on both team’s minds.
“This was a great test for us.” Matzko said. “We needed this kind of game to remind us we need to step our game up this time of the year.”
Torrington moves on to play in Class L while the Wildcats look to make their way through Class M.
Both have a bye to start the Tournament, each begins action on Tuesday with home games.
“We showed we can play at this level,” Mussleman said. “It’s a great game to play right before the states.”