Titans stay hot, rally past Bravehearts
TORRINGTON - Pitching kept the Torrington Titans in the game Friday night and then Matt Batten stepped to the plate and won it for them.
After getting a strong start from Mike Gibbons and effective pitching out of the bullpen from David Gerics and Willie Yahn, Batten delivered a walk-off two run single in the ninth to lift the Titans to a 3-2 victory over the Worcester Bravehearts at Fuessenich Park.
The win was Torrington's third straight and fifth in six games. The Titans (17-14) pulled within 2.5 games of the first-place Bravehearts (19-11) in the FCBL's West Division.
For a while it looked like it was going to be a tough loss in which Torrington wasted solid pitching. Gibbons allowed two runs and scattered five hits and struck out 11 in five innings of work. He walked just one before turning the game over to the bullpen.
"The pitching was phenomenal from beginning to end," Titans coach Dan McNamara said. "We were able to hold them to two runs and that really kept us in the game."
Worcester starter Tyrone Miller had a strong outing as well, striking out seven and allowing just a run and three hits in six innings. Joe Saia pitched two scoreless innings of relief send the game to the ninth with Worcester ahead 2-1.
Down to its last three outs, the Titans got things going right away with a lead off single by Mike Odenwaelder, who finished with three hits. Odenwaelder moved to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on a bunt by Kyle Decker.
Decker reached on his bunt as the Bravehearts tried to throw out Odenwaelder at third. Decker stole second and represented the winning run but the runners had to hold on a groundout to short by Taylor Olmstead.
That brought up Batten who took an 0-1 pitch back up the middle to center for a single that plated both Odenwaelder and Decker to win the game.
"I just wanted to get the ball to the outfield," Batten said. "Fortunately I got one out there and Odenwaelder and Decker were able to get around and score."
Yahn worked around a single and struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his first win of the season. Yahn, who is headed to UConn in the fall, has not allowed a run in his last three outings and teamed with Gerics to back up Gibbons out of the bullpen. Gerics tossed three shutout innings, allowing just one hit while striking out three.
Gibbons had everything working on Friday and struck out the side in both the first and second innings. He struck out two more in the third before allowing two runs in the fourth.
"I felt good, I was just trying to go out there and establish my fastball early on both sides of the plate," Gibbons said. "My split-changeup was really working today, so that was helping me keep hitters off balance today."
The Titans will look to extend their win streak to four games on Saturday night when they welcome the East Division leading Brockton Rox.
"I love how we are playing right now," McNamara said. "As I've said a thousand times before there is no quit in these guys. It came down to the ninth and I asked them to do a job and they went out and did it."