Calhoun helps Titans walk-off in 11. Best of three against Sharks on deck.
TORRINGTON: It’s becoming uncanny, but not expected.
Put the Torrington Titans in a tough situation with a lot on the line and count on them getting themselves through it.
Take Saturday night in their winner takes all, one game play-in game against the Nashua Silver Knights with the winner moving on to a best of three semi-final series that starts on Sunday.
The Titans had ace Mike Gibbons on the mound with a 6-1 lead after three innings but lost that lead when the Knights fought all the way back with a pair of runs in the fourth and four in the fifth to go up 7-6.
Some teams could fold, some teams are clearly not the 2014 Torrington Titans.
This Titans team simply has not shown that they know how to give up, it doesn’t seem to be in their DNA.
“It’s never over until we say it’s over,” manager Dan McNamara said after watching his team walk-off in the bottom of the eleventh on an RBI single by Langston Calhoun to a 9-8 win.
Torrington wins their first playoff game since 2012 and moves on to a best of three match up against the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks. Game one will be Sunday night at Fuessenich Park with games two on three (if necessary) beginning at 6:35 p.m.
In the FCBL format, the lower seed (Torrington) gets the first game at home but must play the following two on the road. The Sharks gained the home field advantage by finishing atop the East Division during the regular season.
Calhoun came to the Titans after the season started and has been thought to have next level talent and on Saturday night he showed why.
His four for five night at the dish was impressive, as was a season that started slow but picked up soon after and ended with a .320 average that included 30 RBI (tied for second on the team) and a pair of home runs.
His grand slam earlier in the week nearly got the Titans all the way back in a game they would lose by one but it was an absolute bomb over the right field fence.
“This summer has been more about me working on the mental aspects of the game,” Calhoun said. “I can do the job physically but so much of this game is mental.”
After giving up a run in the top of the second, the home team came back with a vengeance, batting around in a five run frame led by RBI’s from Tim Budd, Anthony Capuano and a pair by Chris Scura.
They would add another in the bottom of the third on a booming RBI double by a resurgent Taylor Olmstead who would be thrown out trying to stretch the tow bagger into three.
Gibbons, who was clocked at 95 mile per hour on the radar gun, worked around the second inning home run by Matt Mottola but gave up a pair of runs in the fourth before the wheels came off in a four run fifth.
Only four of the seven runs Gibbons gave up were earned but the Titans ace was off the hook when his relentless teammates tied the score in the bottom of the fifth.
It happened in a heartbeat as R. J. Going launched a long triple and scored three pitches later on the first of two times Calhoun would drive him in on the night.
Both bullpens settled things down, allowing just a run apiece from the seventh to the bottom of the eleventh.
George Lund made his first appearance for the Titans since July 1 when he came down with mono and while he walked a pair, gives McNamara another quality arm out of the bullpen.
In all, the Torrington pen gave up just one run over the final six with Kevin Dube (3 innings, 3 hits, 1 run), Lund and David Gerics (2 innings, 2 hits) holding the visitors largely at bay.
Calhoun had a chance to score the winning run when he led off the bottom of the ninth with a double to left and was moved to third on a sacrifice by Matt Batten but Joe Papparelli struck out and Olmstead was out by a half a step on a grounder up the middle.
Going would set up the winning run after reaching on a walk with one down. Going would take off for second on his own and moved to third when the catchers throw sailed into centerfield.
“R.J. always has the green light,” McNamara said. “He did that on his own.”
Former Titan Travis Landry was working his third inning of relief when he faced Calhoun again and after shattering his bat at the handle with an outside fastball, served up the grounder up the middle that ended the Knights season and kept the Titans dream alive.
The last time the Titans made the playoffs (2012) they won their home game to North Shore but dropped the two road games.
Will the team that never seems to give up have enough left to win four more games?
The next part of the journey starts on Sunday night.