Print this story

One win away: the Titans are on the verge.

POSTED August 02, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Tyler Erickson pitched perhaps one of the most dominating games of the 2011 summer season with a 1-0 win over the Martha's Vineyard Sharks. Erickson struck out 14, allowed just three hits and walked only one. The former Holy Cross Crusader, who is a senior at Castleton State, was just named the NEIBA Pitcher of the Year.

TORRINGTON: In a season that has seen it’s fair share of drama, the last act of the Torrington Titans regular season will be played out over the next two days on an island.

Martha’s Vineyard to be exact.

Behind a masterful pitching performance from Tyler Erickson and the timely hitting of another pitcher (Matt O’Neill), the Titans find themselves just a win away from securing the second and final playoff spot.

Their 1-0 win over the Sharks on Monday night at a loud Fuessenich Park was as close to a playoff atmosphere as you could get.

Two top pitchers throwing gems, one was just a little better.

Adam Cherry, who ironically was almost a Titan this season, pitched seven strong innings, allowing just the one run on five hits.

His only blemish came in the bottom of the third when he gave up back to back doubles to Cole Harrison and O’Neill for the games only run.

Cherry has lost twice to Torrington this year and had a no-decision in a third.

Erickson was just that much better. He is a pitcher who doesn’t have the most amazing stuff you will ever see, but he does something every manager wants to see; he pounds the strike-zone and pitches to contact.

“Every team has to have a Tyler Erickson,” Titans manager Gregg Hunt said, “His mound presence is just outstanding.”

His 4-3 record is deceiving when you look at his miniscule ERA which now stands at 1.79.

His 14 strikeouts are now the standard in the newly founded Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

O’Neill on the other hand, has had more time at the plate than on the mound and is making the most of it.

“I’m just trying to help my team out in whatever way I can,” O’Neill said after collecting his second double, second RBI and fourth hit in seven games.

O’Neill has scored twice and played one heck of a first base, something new to him.

In the Sharks half of the eighth, a three-base error gave the visitors a runner on third with nobody out.

After a grounder to short with the infield in held the runner, Robbie Zinsmeister, one of the best hitters and fastest runners in the league hit a ball to second that looked like it had no chance to develop into a twin-killing.

A strong throw towards first by shortstop Ryan Sonberg headed for the dirt near first but O’Neill came up with the throw on the one-hop for an inning ending double-play.

Tuesday night at one of the greatest places to vacation and take in a ballgame, the Titans will send lefthander Connor McMahon to the mound with a chance to clinch the final post-season spot.

McMahon, who hurled the FCBL’s first no-hitter earlier this summer, has faced the Sharks twice, with mixed results.

He pitched a complete game against the Sharks on July 26 but lost 3-2 on the road.

His worst start of the year took place on the Vineyard back on June 24 when he gave up eight runs in 3-plus innings.

Count on this though; the Titans pitchers watched how the Sharks reacted to what Erickson did on the mound, expect them to try and give them more of the same.

So it’s down to this: one team need to win one game while the other needs to sweep.

Stay tuned.

NOTES: As of now, it appears the playoff would start on Thursday at Nashua.

The Silver Knights have won home-field advantage in the best of three with the middle game on Friday played at either Torrington or Martha’s Vineyard.

In the event of a tie, the ruling is expected to come down sometime over the next day or two.

For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here