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Michael O'Malley: One hard working GM.

POSTED August 14, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


Chris Carminucci, owner of the Torrington Titans and Michael, the GM of the Titans. Both will have stories written by Timothy W. Gaffney on Sunday. The Carminucci exclusive will appear in the Sunday Republican American newspaper while O'Malley will be featured on Litchfield County Sports.com.

TORRINGTON: On any given day this summer, Torrington Titans General Manager Michael O’Malley was an easy man to find.

He was either at, on his way to or scheduled to be there later.

His destination of choice: Fuessenich Park.

The first year GM, who is also an assistant coach at Brown University, was the go-to guy for the Titans in their first year as a franchise in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

From soup to nuts; O’Malley did it all.

He was a salesman, spokesman, batting practice pitcher (I think he like that job the best) and one supremely dedicated young man who was doing something he loved.

O’Malley reflected recently on how he felt year one went; the good the bad and the rainy.

“I would say this season was successful,” O’Malley said, “We got a real late start but things came together as we went along.”

Starting in early March, when the Carminucci Sports Group came in an helped form the FCBL, thus keeping the Titans in Torrington, O’Malley went about the business of building off a base of fans who had always supported collegiate baseball at Fuessenich Park.

“These fans love their team,” O’Malley said, “They were vocal and I loved that. They were thrilled when we won and upset when the team lost. You can’t ask for better fan support than that.”

The Titans finished the season with a 27-16 record, good for second place in the four team league and was one of two teams to play in the first FCBL Championship Series.

Torrington lost to Nashua 2-0 in a best of three series but O’Malley was pleased with how his team performed despite losing players down the stretch.

“I was extremely happy with how the team performed,” O’Malley said, “They lived up to expectations. I still thought we had the best team on paper in the league but on those two night (against Nashua) we weren’t.”

The team that was formed in March hardly resembled the team that took the field in early August.

Gone were their leading hitter (Josh Simms), their closer (Jerin Spikes) a key outfielder (Thomas Richards) and their back up catcher (Shane O’Connell).

Each left for a variety of reasons but the players who remained refused to lay down and feel sorry for themselves because the numbers were down.

“They rallied around each other,” O’Malley said, “Guys like Matt O’Neill and Evan Chamberlain (pitchers) stepped up and played in the field. Ryan Plourde didn’t miss an inning down the stretch when we lost O’Connell.”

Ad the 2012 team starts to take shape, seven months sooner than the 2011 team was created, O’Malley expects to see a core group in place by November 1.

“We will be inviting some players back from this years team,” O’Malley said, “Plus we will be looking to secure some of the best talent available to join us in 2012.”

Players like Plourde, who will be a sophomore at Fairfield this September will most certainly get a phone call. His tough nature and ability to lead a pitching staff that had four of the best starters in the league to a championship series was a serious plus for this team in 2011.

Expect players such as Josh Band, Ryan Sonberg, Kyle Murphy, Connor McMahon and O’Neill, just to name a few, to be in the mix when it comes to forming a core for season two.

The Titans won 27 games the old fashion way, not by punishing the ball with gaudy home-run numbers but with a time tested tradition of pitching, good defense and just enough timely hitting.

Expect more of the same from O’Malley as he puts together next years team.

“I don’t look at power numbers exclusively when I put a team together,” O’Malley said, “I like to have teams that are strong up the middle, can pitch and not give away runs. We also have to be sure we eliminate any easy outs in the lineup.”

The Silver Knights were an example of just that this season. From one to nine, they put a batter up that would make the opposing pitcher battle during every at bat.

“These guys never gave the pitcher a break,” Nashua manager Mike Chambers said after his team clinched the championship game on August 5 in Torrington, “They work hard each and every time they go to the plate. Any of them could hurt you.”

As the old saying goes though, pitching wins titles, and it was pitching that propelled the Silver Knights to the top spot with Torrington right on their heels.

Nashua was led by Keene State freshman standout Eric Perrault, who was voted the Top Pitcher and Top Pro Prospect by the FCBL members.

His 5-0 record with a 1.57 ERA was impressive, his 7.1 inning performance against the Titans in game one of the championship series was masterful.

The hard throwing lefty gave up just one hit while striking out 10 in the 12-0 win.

Gavin McCullough of the Titans was one of the top pitchers in the league all season, posting a 6-0 record with a tiny 1.24 ERA, which led the league.

McMahon pitched the leagues first no-hitter against Seacoast this summer and won four games.

Tyler Wilson won five games while Tyler Erickson won four and pitched a complete game gem in a 1-0 win over Martha’s Vineyard on August 1 to keep the Titans playoff hopes alive against the hard charging Sharks.

Always tough on himself, O’Malley sees room for improvement so the 2012 season can be even better than the first.

“We need to get the word out better to people that we have a team here in Torrington,” O’Malley said, “I go around Litchfield County and still run into people who don’t know. We will do better next year.”

Making every game an event was an objective of the Titans this year and for the most part, O’Malley was pleased with how they went off.

“The Fourth of July promotion (Tri-State versus the Titans) with the Home Run Derby was tremendous,” O’Malley said, “The Little League day went very well. Our goal will be to get something great happening every time we are home.”

The Titans were able to donate almost $5000 dollars back to local charities, something O’Malley was happy with.

Fuessenich Park is one popular place to play and O’Malley spoke highly of the cooperation between the Park and Recreation Department and the teams to find field time.

“I though Brett Simmons did a terrific job of doing whatever he could for us,” O’Malley said, “It’s not easy juggling all the leagues that use this field but he worked hard to make it work.”

With the FCBL looking to add possibly two or three more teams by 2012 (Leominster has already signed on), O’Malley see’s positive developments if that goal is reached.

“Getting the league up to six or eight teams will help legitimize it,” O’Malley said, “We will become more attractive to players and their college coaches will be more willing to send them to a league that is on the rise.”

After five intense months, the 2011 FCBL season is in the books.

By most measures, a successful one with a future that look bright for the league and for the City of Torrington.

For Michael O’Malley, some much needed rest is on tap, but not a time completely without baseball.

“I can already see it’s going to be a working vacation,” O’Malley said, “But I’m looking forward to bringing an even better experience back to Torrington in 2012.”

 

 

 

 

For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here