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Titans hold of Sharks, 4-3. Story by Gary Robinson.

POSTED July 03, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

A familiar face will be back in Torrington in June as a member of the 2012 Torrington Titans. Rich Graef (JR., UMASS, Amherst) will be returning to patrol the outfield at Fuessenich Park after a successful 2011 season. Graef will be entering his junior year for the Minutemen before coming to the Northwest Corner in June.

TORRINGTON- On Saturday, the Torrington Titan’s moved into first place as they continued their hot playing and defeated the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks 4-3.

The Titans seem to be clicking right now as they have won seven out of their last ten games and currently are riding a three-game winning streak. Their spectacular play has allowed for them to move to the top of the FCBL standings for the first time all year.

Titan’s lead-off man Rich Graef (2-3, walk, 2 stolen bases, and 1 run) set the tone right away by reaching with an infield hit, stealing second and third base, and scored on an infield hit by Andrew Spleth.

“I just try to get on,” said Graef when asked about his role as lead-off man. “I have the green light (on the base path) and I’m trying to keep it.

A 1-0 lead was not going to hold up against the Sharks, who are hitting a league best .284 from the plate as a team. The Titans needed to continue their hot hitting and tack on a few more runs.

In the fourth inning, Torrington’s Shane O’Connell drew a walk and Kyle Murphy was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out. Up next was Thomas Richards, who dug in and roped a single into right field.

Titan’s head coach Gregg Hunt waved O’Connell home as a throw from Martha’s Vineyards right fielder skipped past the catcher, allowing O’Connell to score and Richards to be standing on second.

Torrington’s Cole Harrison proceeded to rip the first pitch he saw for a single, scoring Murphy and pushing the lead to 3-0. With a three run lead, the Titan’s could rely on their starting pitcher to lead them to victory.

Gavin McCullough went seven innings giving up two runs on four hits while allowing only two walks. His strong performance allowed him to achieve his fourth win of the season, leading all other pitchers in the FCBL.

“I didn’t have my stuff today,” said McCullough. “I was relying on off speed stuff.”

Despite having a great outing, McCullough was not striking out a lot of hitters. His defense behind him did not seem to mind as they seemed to scoop up every ball in their reach.

“It’s great when you don’t have to strike everyone out. If it got hit, they fielded it, plain and simple,” said McCullough.

It was only a matter of time until the Sharks bit back with some offense of their own. In the fifth inning, Martha’s Vineyard’s Anthony Boix reached on a throwing error. He was knocked home on a double by shortstop Robbie Zinsmeister.

Zinsmeister, who led the FCBL in hitting coming in, had been held in check in his first two times up but ripped the first pitch he saw to the wall in right-center.

Showing why he is the spark that makes the Sharks offense go, Zinsmeister crossed up the Titans defense as he took of for third, attempting to steal the bag with two outs.

The throw from Titans backstop Ryan Plourde sailed past third baseman Kyle Murphy, who was late getting to the bag and Zinsmeister scored.

The Sharks now trailed 3-2 as they fought their way back.

The Titans created some breathing room in the seventh as they bumped the score back up to 4-2 when Plourde crossed the plate after leading off the inning with a long double.

He would score on a Josh Simms fielders choice to put the lead back out to two at 4-2.

Heading into the ninth, the Sharks trailed, but refused to lie down.

To close out the game, Hunt brought in pitcher Jared Spikes. He struck out the first two batters with ease and looked like a third was on the way until Boix took a 0-2 pitch over the left field fence.

The deficit was cut to 4-3, but the odds were still in the Titans favor as the only needed one out to finish the game.

Up next was left fielder Jack Colton. He was also down to a 0-2 count and managed to rip a single to right field.

The Titans fans began to get a little restless as their beloved team could not seem to close out the game. After numerous foul balls, Spikes managed to produce a ground ball that finished out the game.

The Titans are now 8-5, riding a three game winning streak, and sit on top of the FCBL standings.

“Now that we are playing three games in a row, its one good game after another,” said Graef.

They look to continue their hot play as they travel to Nashua on Sunday to take on the Silver Knights.



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