Raiders fall to Maloney, 5-2 in Class L second round action.
TORRINGTON —On Monday, it was defense that helped the Torrington baseball team advance in the postseason.
On Tuesday, it was a key defensive play by an opposing outfielder that sent the Raiders home.
Maloney senior center fielder Jonathan Walter threw a bullet to the plate that nailed Torrington's Shane Bierfeldt in the bottom of the sixth inning to keep the Spartans ahead, 2-1.
Maloney added a three-run blast by winning pitcher Andrew Hendrickson in the seventh to down the Raiders, 5-2, in the second round of the Class L tournament.
"(Monday) we were kind of sloppy with our throws to the bases," Maloney manager Howard Hewitt said. "Toda,y we cleaned it up, throwing right to the bag each time and when we needed it. It was there."
Bierfeldt, a senior, had walked and moved to second on a perfect sacrifice by fellow senior Mitch Zagrodnik. After a strikeout, Manny Rijo lined a single to center that looked like it might tie things at 2-2, but Walter unleashed a great throw that beat Bierfeldt to the plate for the third out.
The Spartans got outstanding pitching from Hendrickson, who retired 12 in a row at one point after the Raiders had gotten to him with a first-inning run.
In the first, Stanley Rijo led off with a booming double and moved to third on a sacrifice by John McCarthy.
Dom Sabia wasted little time, driving in Rijo on the first pitch he saw.
Torrington loaded the bases in the first but could plate no more as Hendrickson got back-to-back short-to-second fielder's-choices to end the threat.
"That's just how he has been all season," Hewitt said. "He pounds the strike zone and we make plays behind him."
Nate Manchester started for Torrington but came out after two innings with some back discomfort. He was replaced by junior Josh Rubino who retired nine of the first 10 he faced before running into trouble in the sixth.
A hard liner off the bat of Michael Guilino went off the top of Raider third basemen Mitch Zagrodnik for a two-base error.
Hendrickson helped himself with a deep fly to center that allowed Guilino to move up 90 feet to third, where he scored on a single up the middle by Cameron Fahey for the 2-1 lead.
Torrington made a living out of coming back from far larger deficits than this in 2014, and it went right to work in the bottom of the sixth when Bierfeldt worked out a four-pitch walk.
While the result of that inning and eventually in the game did not go the Raiders way, one thing is for certain.
After a number of down years, Torrington baseball is on the right track.
"I'm really proud of what this team accomplished this year," manager Pat Richardson said. "We have brought the program back to where it belongs."
Hendrickson completed his amazing day with a long home run that would build the lead to 5-1, and although Torrington sophomore Kobe Covington would hit a solo home run leading off the bottom of the seventh, it was not enough.
But it was a sign of things to come for Richardson and company going forward.