Titans drop opener to Bravehearts, 3-1.
TORRINGTON: Opening night in any sports brings with it a certain air of excitement and anticipation, no matter how old the participants are.
With that excitement comes the occasional nerves that seem to pop up at the most inopportune time.
That was the case on Wednesday night when the Torrington Titans opened their 2014 campaign against the newest member of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, the Worcester Bravehearts.
The visiting Bravehearts scored three runs in the top of the fifth without the benefit of a batted ball reaching a base and rode four strong pitchers to a 3-1 win over the Torrington Titans before a strong Fuessenich Park crowd.
“I was proud of the guy’s effort,” Titans manager Dan McNamara said. “We had a bit of opening night jitters in that fifth inning but aside from that, we played very well.”
Torrington broke out on top in the bottom of the first when Chris Scura (2 for 4, run cored) led off with a single and moved to second on a Jack St Clair (3 for 3 and a walk) infield roller.
With one out, Michael Odenwaelder gave Fuessenich Park fans a glimpse of what he can do be lifting a fly ball deep to center that moved Scura to third.
What should impress fans is that Odenwaelder was way ahead of the pitch, off balance and used mostly his arms to hit the ball 380 plus feet to deed center.
Samuel Warren came through with a clutch two out single to right and the Titans scored their first run of the season and had their first lead.
Mike Gibbons, a returning player from 2013, cruised along through the first five innings, not allowing a hit until there was one out in the fourth.
The Wheaton College junior struck out six over those first five frames but ran into trouble in the top of the sixth when he and his defense also had trouble.
Bravehearts right fielder Ian Strom led off with a walk and was caught taking off for second by Gibbons but in the ensuing rundown, the return throw hit Strom in the back and he made it back safely to first.
The Titans would regret that loss of an out.
A sacrifice was followed by a walk and a hit batter, loading the bases with just one out and not a base hit to be seen.
Worcester centerfielder Brendan O’Reilly put the ball in play with a dribbler down the third base line that both Gibbons and St Clair tried to let go foul but it hugged the line, giving the Bravehearts their first run of 2014.
They would not be done though and picked up two more runs on one wild pitch that went up off to the third base side near the visitors on deck circle as one run scored.
Titan’s catcher Timothy Budd retrieved it and threw home but his throw evaded Gibbons, allowing the second run to score.
One 45-foot infield hit, two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch and you’re down 3-1. Gotta love the game of baseball.
Four pitchers, Kyle Slinger, Aaron Civale, Miles Sheehan and Charlie Butler combined to keep the Titans off the board after the first and recorded their first win as a member of the FCBL.
Bravehearts manager Alex Trezza knew his arms had done the job for him on this night.
“The pitchers are usually ahead of the batters at this point,” Trezza said. “Each of them threw real well. A ‘W’ is a ‘W’, we’ll take it.
Gibbons pitched well and probably deserved a better fate for his five and a third inning effort in which he gave up just two hits.
The junior was followed by Justin RoBarge and George Lund who did not allow a hit over the next three plus innings of work.
Warren had the two hits while St. Clair reached base all four times he came to the plate.
The Titans are back in action tonight when they take on the Brockton Rox at 7:05 p.m.