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Raiders fall to Crusaders 7-1. John Torsiello has the story.

POSTED May 13, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON-The Holy Cross Crusaders baseball team rolled into Fuessenich Park Tuesday afternoon and cooled off a red hot Torrington Raider squad, 7-1.

Senior righty Ben Brown, who is headed to the University of Hartford in the fall, shut the potent Torrington bats down, allowing just three hits to pick up his third win of the season against one loss.

With the victory. Holy Cross moved into a share of the Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division race with Torrington, as both teams now sport a 6-2 record. Overall, the teams are both 10-5.

Torrington was sizzling coming into the game that was played on a sweet spring afternoon before a good-sized crowd. The Raiders had won eight straight games, including a 16-1 thumping of Crosby on Monday. But the visitors jumped on Torrington starter, promising sophomore Nate Manchester, for three runs in the top of the first inning.

“Getting those runs relaxed me,” said Brown. “It gives you a lot of confidence to go out there and throw strikes. This is a nice win for us because they had beaten us the first time we played them (a 15-8 Raider win) and we wanted to get them back.”

Brendan Bessette drove in two runs in the first for Holy Cross with a single to left field.

Torrington scored its only run of the contest in the bottom of the second to make it 3-1 and pump a little life into the Raider faithful. Manchester walked with two outs and came around when Mitch Zagrodnik ripped a double off the first baseman’s glove. Zagrodnik was nailed trying to go to third to end the frame.

But that was it for the home club as Brown settled into a groove. He faced the minimum amount of batters over the third through fifth innings and helped himself by knocking in a run in the top of the sixth inning.

With one out, the Raiders got a bit of a rally going in the bottom of the sixth as they put two men on with one out. But a base running blunder cost Torrington one out and Brown got the final one to quell the mini comeback attempt.

Holy Cross broke open the contest by putting a three-spot on the board in the top of the seventh with two outs. Kyle Skidmore tripled to center and then scored on an error. Andrew Bialoglowy, running for Ethen Mester (who had reached on the miscue) went to second when a Manchester pickoff attempt went wild. James Thorpe then singled to left with Bialoglowy stopping at third. Thorpe stole second and both runners scored on a single by Chris Anderson to make it 7-1.

Brown fanned two batters in the seventh inning to close this one out.

Manchester pitched well and probably deserved a better fate. He allowed seven hits, struck out five batters, and at one point retired 15 straight batters over the middle innings. The soph earlier this season had a streak of 24 scoreless innings and allowed just four hits over a span of three games.

“It was my fault, especially in the first and seventh innings,” said Manchester, a righty who has a nice assortment of pitches to work with. “We couldn’t get the bats going but giving up those runs to them in the first hurt us. I got the ball up in the zone and they took advantage of it. In the middle innings everything was working, fastball, change and curveball. The past eight games we played real well and I think we can go far with what we have.”

Torrington head coach Pat Richardson said his team needs to bounce back quickly from its disappointment.

“We have another game in 24 hours (Kennedy on the road) and we have to see how we bounce back from adversity. We had a nice run going there for eight games and we will just have to get back to it right away. Hand it to Holy Cross, they swung the bats well today.”

Both teams played crisp defensive ball, combining to turn four double plays.

Holy Cross entertains Crosby Wednesday afternoon as the race for the Copper Division continues to heat up.

Holy Cross 7, Torrington 1

Holy Cross    300   001 3   7  7  1

Torrington     010   000 0    1  3  2

Ben Brown and Brendan Bessette; Nate Manchester and Ben Thompson. WP-Brown (3-1). LP-Manchester (3-2). Triple-Kyle Skidmore (HC). Double-Mitch Zagrodnik (T).

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