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Sharks use four-run ninth to down Titans, 7-3

POSTED July 10, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON:It’s funny how the baseball god’s have a way of evening things out

Saturday night, the Torrington Titans broke open a tight game with five runs in the top of the ninth to pull out a 9-4 win over the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks.

Less than 19 hours later, the Sharks returned the favor with a four run top of the ninth to leave Torrington with a 7-3 win.

With a lot of baseball still to play in this inaugural season of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, three of the four teams are battling things out for the top two spots.

Only the first and second place teams will make the post-season, the other two will be on the outside looking in.

The Titans (13-7), the Nashua Silver Knights (14-8) and Sharks (12-9) have fed off the last place Seacoast Mavericks (4-19) but will match up against each other much more often down the stretch.

Torrington and Martha’s Vineyard are scheduled to face each other five times in the teams last eight games.

The Silver Knights are considered by both Titans manager Gregg Hunt and Sharks skipper Ted Currie to be the team to beat.

“We seem to slug it out with Nashua,” Currie said, “Against Torrington though, we face some real good pitching.”

Both starters on Sunday did more than enough to give their teams a chance to win this one.

For Torrington, spot starter Spencer Kane gave Hunt eight solid innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out 10.

“We expected five or six innings out of Spencer,” Hunt said, “He is the kind of pitcher who pounds the strike zone and he got stronger as he went on.”

Kane and the home team fell behind 2-0 after three batters when Sharks second baseman Robbie Zinsmeister launched a two-run homer off a flat change up over the 330 foot mark in left-center.

Zinsmeister, who Currie described as “just a terrific baseball player,” had been tearing the FCBL up early in the year but the pitchers have made adjustments.

Still, his .364 batting average is fourth best in the league while his four long balls tie him for first and his 18 RBI’s trail only Mark Sanborg of Nashua (19).

The Titans jumped right back in the game in the bottom of the third on a long ball of their own, this one by first baseman Andrew Spelth.

Josh Simms, who’s .364 average ties him with Zinsmeister in fourth, singled with one out and came around on the blast by Spleth, who leads the team with 14 RBI’s.

“It was a full count and he (Sharks starter Matthew Hegarty) threw me a hanging curve,” Spleth said, “I was able to keep me hands back and wait for it.”

The ball found the back side of the left field fence near the foul pole and things were knotted at two.

Hegarty has been a workhorse for Currie and the Sharks and showed why on Sunday with a variety of quality pitches and the ability to have fast innings.

The right hander retired 10 straight at one point during the middle innings and his team used another long ball to go up a run in their half of the seventh.

Catcher Anthony Corona sent a 1-1 change up from Kane over the left center field wall for a 3-2 lead.

“It was the last change up I threw,” Kane said, “I went mostly fastballs after that.

Kane reached back and retired the last six to face him and got himself another shot at starting next weekend.

“I had been a starter my entire career until college when I did more relieving,” Kane said, “I still have that starters mentality.”

The Titans battled back in the bottom of the eighth with a two out rally, started by second baseman Ryan Sonberg who beat out a bunt down the third base line.

Sonberg stole second and came around to score on a single to center by leadoff man Rich Graef, who just seems to be in the middle of the action when things go right for Torrington.

Evan Chamberlain took over on the mound for Kane in the ninth and things got rough fast.

A first pitch single to center started things for the visitors. A hit batsman and a perfectly executed bunt that hugged the chalk all the way to the third base bag loaded the bases with no outs.

From there, things got a little sloppy for the Titans.

A bloop hit over the second base bag with the infield in plated one run. A fielders choice force at home might have been a double play but the throw hit the runner at first.

A hard hit ball that bounced off Simms’ chest scored another run and an error allowed the fourth run to score.

Still, the Titans have won eight of ten and have established themselves as one of the three teams hotly in contention for one of the top two spots.

As Spleth said afterwards, “The great thing about baseball is that we get to do this again tomorrow. We don’t have to wait a week like football, we can go out there confidently and try to win on Monday.”

TITANS NOTES: Spleth had a great Fourth of July week as his family came up from Indianapolis and made their way to ‘The Big Apple’. “It was great. My sister is an aspiring photographer so she had a lot of fun with it.”

Torrington is on the road Monday and Tuesday with games at Seacoast and Nashua.

Avon Old Farms graduate Joey Dinino will make his first start of the season against the Mavericks while Connor McMahon will look to take care of the Silver Knights on Tuesday.

The Titans return home on Wednesday for a double-header against these same Sharks at 4 and 7 p.m. at Fuessenich Park.

Kevin Bartlett will start one game while the second game starter has yet to be determined.

 

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