Tri-State World Series another good show
The Tri-State World Series has always been a heck of a way to cap off the summer. This year was no different. With beaches reluctantly waving good-bye to its multitude of worshippers as schools and colleges summon, the Tri-Town Trojans and Terryville Black sox gave us a final memorable highlight to digest and ease the transition into colored leaves and cooler temperatures.
Tri-Town earned the right to call itself champion with a hard-fought 4-2 win in the deciding third game of a best-of-three final held Thursday night at Torrington’s Fuessenich Park. For the Trojans who have made the championship round more of an expectation instead of a hope with seven appearances in nine years, it was a well-deserved second title.
But it was a series of shared highlights as the highly competitive ones often are and there wasn’t much that separated the two teams. Tri-Town lefty Charlie Benson kept home plate a mystery with a five-hitter in a 3-0 opening game win, outdueling another high-powered lefty in Ken Kerski.
However regular season champion Terryville was not about to go away easily. Despite going 14 innings without scoring a run and trailing, 6-1, in the seventh inning of Game 2, the Black Sox finally came out of their coma and it wasn’t exactly a groggy wakeup.
A five-hit explosion in the seventh inning highlighted by RBI hits from Chris Callahan, Kody Kerski and Kyle Skidmore, tied the game, 6-6. After the Trojans showed a little of gumption of their own to score and go ahead, 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh, Tri-Town put a four-spot on the board in the eighth for a 10-7 lead.
Tony Patane, Callahan and Skidmore again came through with run-scoring hits. That was more than enough for former minor leaguer Kody Kerski who battle throughout, striking out 14 while giving up 11 hits.
The loss of the big lead and the sudden emergence of the Terryville bats seemed to indicate a momentum change for the championship tilt. But, it didn’t happen.
Once again the Trojans pitching was dominant, this time Bobby Chatfield teaming up with ironman Miles Scribner to silence the Black Sox bats with a three-hitter. Chatfield had said the night before he was retiring at the end of the series and proceeded take a title with him.
He pitched seven strong innings, allowing just two hits no earned runs before giving way to Scribner who used his rubber arm to pitch two scoreless innings one night after going 62/3 innings in Game 2.
“I was hoping to go tonight and hoping my arm cooperated,” said Chatfield. “I learned from the best. I did it the right way, Payton Manning and Michael Strahan, they went out on top too.”
The Trojans broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly and huge RBI single from Dan McCarty. Like McCarty said, “I’ve still got it.” Who could argue with that?
The game was more than baseball as a lot of the league camaraderie was on display too. In a scary incident, Tri-Town’s Casey McDonald crashed into the left field fence at full speed after nearly tracking down a long shot off the bat of Patane.
The ball popped out of McDonald’s glove as he crashed into the fence but that was secondary. Clearly shaken and injured, McDonald somehow had the presence of mind to pick up the ball and throw it back in, but then needed help off the field.
Over on the sidelines surrounded by teammates and family and a concerned Terryville squad and woozy McDonald sat on a chair as teammate Landon massaged his back. McDonald’s elbow was clearly victimized and the ambulance eventually took him for tests.
These are guys that come from work and get up and go to work the next day. They play the game for the love of the game not for the love of money. It was pretty evident the priorities here were spot on.
While the mood sombered for a while, there was a positive impact.
“It gave us a reason to play,” said McDonald.
Terryville had its own highlights beyond the disappointment with the final result. Billy Armstrong was the hard luck loser in the final game. Here’s the thing about Armstrong though. Just several weeks early he was nearly decapitated when a vicious, bone-crunching line drive off the bat of Bethlehem’s Will Gerski punished his cheek bone nearly knocking him unconscious.
After significant time on the ground, Armstrong was helped off the field and went to the hospital. Plastic surgery may be in the future. But he was on the field and ready to go.
On the field former Terryville star and Endicott College player Ian Schmidt had four hits in his last six trips of the series. Patane had four hits in his last seven at-bats.
In the end the two teams took it to the last inning and what more could you ask for. A lot of players were in the Fuessenich Park parking lot late into the crisp evening. They didn’t want it to end either. But again Tri-State sent the summer out in style