Torrington moves on in NVL Tourney with comeback win over Derby, 7-6.
Raider Mitch Zagrodnik is congratulated by Torrington head coach Pat Richardson after blasting a two-run home run in the third inning of their 7-6 win over Derby.
TORRINGTON: For a while on Tuesday, it seemed the Torrington baseball team had remained on their Memorial Day break and who could blame them, it was a great weekend.
That coupled with Prom Weekend for most, led to let’s say, less than a wide awake approach once their quarterfinal game with Derby got underway.
Before you could put a corsage on your date, the home team found themselves down 4-0 to a Derby team that had handed them one of their five losses this year, a 7-6, nine inning decision early in the year.
A fast exit from the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament would have made the wait until the States start next week a long stretch but the home team battled back and rode a two out walk to Stanley Rio and a run scoring double from John McCarthy in the bottom of the sixth into a 7-6 win.
Torrington will take on Holy Cross on Wednesday in the semi-finals at Fuessenich Park with a chance to atone for two of their regular season losses to the Crusaders at 4 p.m.
The Torrington turnaround from their 0-3 start was built on foundation that featured many a game like this one.
Get behind early, have to claw back and find a way to come up with that big hit or pitch or fielding play.
After falling behind by that four spot on Tuesday, Torrington looked like they would get a couple back quickly when they put runners on second and third with no outs thanks to an infield hit by McCarthy and an error that allowed Dom Sabia to reach.
That rally quickly fizzled when McCarthy tried to score from third on a ball back to the mound and was thrown out at the plate after the out was recorded at first.
Undeterred, the home team battled back in the bottom of the second when Shane Bierfeldt, who is one of the vocal leaders of this unit, slammed a 330 foot triple to right center leading off the inning.
After a groundout, Manny Rijo reached on a slow roller that froze Bierfeldt at third.
Kobe Covington then sent a slow roller to second that scored Bierfeldt and Rijo when the Derby second baseman threw the ball away, allowing the second run to score.
In their half of the third, Torrington would come all the way back when Mitch Zagrodnik launched one over the left field fence after a Bierfeldt walk to knot things at four.
Manchester meanwhile, had started to settle down after the rocky start, allowing only a pair of infield singles through the second a fifth innings.
“He (Manchester) gets lost in the stats,” Richardson said. “He gives up those four but calms down, allowing us to get back into it.”
The home team meanwhile, had going ahead plans that came about in their half of the fourth.
Ben Thompson, the ninth place hitter, punched the first of two hits he would have on the night with one out and promptly stole second.
With two out, McCarthy was hit in the back by a pitch bringing Sabia to the plate who dumped a single into right that scored Thompson.
Ben Bonvicini drove in another with a hard single to left but Sabia was thrown out trying to make third, ending the inning but not before Torrington had taken their first lead at 6-4.
Manchester would run into trouble in the top of the fifth though as Sal Frosceno led off with a double and Tyler Bottino walked.
Back to back strikeouts (nine in total) almost got the sophomore out of trouble but a wild pitch and a soft single that fell just behind second found grass and tied things at 6.
The Torrington winning rally started with two outs in the bottom of the sixth when Stanley Rijo worked out a walk, bringing up McCarthy who asked his coach for a favor.
“I asked coach to send Stanley.” McCarthy said. “I knew if he was running he would score on a double.”
McCarthy did just that as he launched a deep drive to right center that easily plated the fast Rijo.
Coming back has become a trademark of this team and they showed it again on Tuesday, despite the sleepy start.
“We have done it all year with our bats,” Torrington manager Pat Richardson said, “We have confidence in our bats and don’t get one each other.”
Not giving up when you get down showed another side of this team.
“Adversity shows character and we showed that today,” Richardson summed up.