Torrington freshman hurler Kyle Banche saves day for Raiders who rally past Kennedy, 9-5.
TORRINGTON: When the first four batters for the Kennedy Eagles reached base, and scored, it looked like an ugly Monday afternoon was underway for a Torrington baseball team that has struggled this spring.
The afternoon has started on a rough note when slugger Dom Sabia was scratched from the lineup due to an injured wrist he sustained while diving for a ball last week in a game against Seymour.
By the end of two innings, the Eagles had increased their lead to 5-1 and it looked like it might not be the day the Raiders earned their third win of the year.
Enter freshman Kyle Banche, who started the day at shortstop before taking over for Raider starter sophomore Garrett Fosbrook who was victimized by his defense some as her gave up the five Kennedy runs.
To their credit, Torrington had battled all the way back to tie things at five after two, the big blow a two-run single off the bat of Mike Paniati, also a sophomore.
Sensing a theme here?
Well you should because with all the injuries manager Pat Richardson has had to deal with this year, it’s a youth movement the remainder of the year for the most part and sometimes youth can inject something into a team that has been missing.
Banche was the beneficiary of some stellar defense while he was on the mound with the biggest plays coming from his battery mate Cam Cerruto who gunned down runners at second trying to steal in the third and fourth innings to help distinguish Eagles rallies.
Cerruto also caught a runner trying to advance to third in the sixth inning when the visitors had runners on first and second with two outs.
With Banche busy keeping the Eagles off the board, the Raider offense made their coach happy by playing small ball when they needed and came up with timely hits when needed.
The home team would take the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth when they scored three runs, the first two on a classic Raider play that even would have made former manager Gerry Carbone happy.
The inning indeed started with small ball work on the part of the Raiders as Jake Reynolds singled with one out and promptly stole second.
Ben Vanotti struck out but the ball evaded the Kennedy catcher while Vanotti hustled to first, Reynolds to third. Vanotti stole second, leaving runners on second and third for junior Ryan Ahlman.
Que the play that makes managers smile when it works and miserable when it doesn’t, the squeeze play.
Ahlman put down a tremendous bunt towards first, so good the first baseman had to field it in towards the mound, leaving no one to cover first.
Reynolds scored easily and in the race to the bag that Ahlman won, Vanotti broke for home and was safe when the throw was wide of the plate.
The Raiders would tack on another run in the frame when Banche walked with the bases loaded, scoring Ben Richardson who had singled after the Ahlman squeeze.
Armed with a three-run lead, Banche continued to do what his manager wanted him to.
“My objective was to come in, throw strikes and stay ahead,” Banche said.
“Kyle came up with a big effort for us today,” Richardson said. “He’s looked good early on, filling a void for us at short. I knew he would come in, throw strikes and keep us in the game.”
Kennedy would put runners on in each of the last four innings but could not break through as the Raiders improve to 3-9 on the year and the manager hopes to build on the positives he saw today.
‘It was my favorite game of the year today,” Richardson said. “Because we had a lot of young guys out there and they didn’t give up. There was a lot of energy out here today, we played some small ball and made some things happen.”