Raiders earn a spot in the Class L State Tournament after beating Litchfield, 10-5 in eight.
Torrington 10, Litchfield 5
Torrington 400 100 05 10 11 2
Litchfield 000 120 20 5 9 1
Records: Torrington 8-12, Litchfield 3-17
LITCHFIELD; It figures that the game they needed to get into the baseball State Tournament would go the way of so many Torrington Raider ball games this year.
Get off to a hot start, fade somewhat in the middle/late innings and then rally when you thought they might be dead in the water.
The Raiders earned a trip to the post season with a 10-5 eight inning win over the Litchfield Cowboys in a game they led 4-0 after one.
“A microcosm of our season,” head coach Pat Richardson said. “We started fast, lost some focus in the middle but like in so many of our games over the second half of the year, they didn’t hang their heads and came through when it counted.”
True enough. In the first inning, a frame that saw the send nine men to the plate, it looked as if it might be a short afternoon against a Cowboys team that had won just three games coming in.
A big, pinch hit double in the top of the eighth inning by James Gaskins opened the floodgates for a five-run inning, one the visitors made sure was enough.
“I was just looking to drive the ball in that spot,” Gaskins said. “I wanted to try and drive the guys in by outing the ball in play.”
After taking that four-run lead on the strength of a CJ Root ground out RBI and a two-run double by starting pitcher Adam Vanotti, the Raiders saw the Cowboys climb back in with a run in the fourth which scored on a double play and two more in the fifth.
Torrington added another run in the top of the fourth on one of three runs driven in by Kyle Banche who also got the win in relieve of Vanotti who went five innings.
Down 5-3 going to the bottom of the seventh, the Cowboys looked to spoil the Raiders State Tournament making party by putting the first two runners on with nobody out.
After a grounder to first that Vanotti got to Banche covering, the runners moved up to second and third and came around to score on a single to right by Litchfield Designated Hitter, Jack Morgan.
Morgan led the home team with three runs batted in.
Being down or tied late is nothing new for this Torrington team lately.
“We were down 10-6 to WCA a few games ago,” Banche said. “We just keep fighting and don’t give up.” Torrington would win that game 11-10.
The Raiders post season hopes seemed pretty low, especially after starting the campaign by losing seven of their first eight.
Since then though, they have posted a 7-5 mark, including the last three that they needed to keep their season going.
In the top of the eighth, Ben Richardson led off with a single to center and moved to second on a bunt by Vanotti that fell just out of reach of the Cowboys first basemen, allowing Vanotti to reach as well.
Right fielder Jacob Groebl then put down a perfect sacrifice of his own to put two runners in scoring position with just one out, leading to the Gaskins long double that plated Richardson.
After Litchfield reliever Tom Brady got the second out on a foul to the catcher, Banche came through with a huge double of his own that scored pinch runner Cooper Suminski and Gaskins.
An error and a two-run single by Casey Navin gave the Raiders a five-run lead at 10-5.
Banche wrapped things up in the bottom of the sixth, giving up a two-out single to Brady but getting Aidan Donohue to fly to right for the third out.
The Raiders are ranked #33 in the Class L rankings and will have to wait until the brackets come out later this week to see who they would play in either a play-in or first round game.
But hey, they’re still playing, and everybody starts 0-0 this time of the year.