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Titans take two from Sharks. Go four games up on third place team from the Vineyard. Story by Gary Robinson.

POSTED July 14, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Torrington Titans starting pitcher, Kevin Bartlett, pitched into the seventh inning on Wednesday night against the Martha's Vineyard Sharks. The Titans took both ends of the twin bill 4-3 and 4-2, and now lead the third place Sharks by four full games. Only the top two teams in the FCBL will make the playoffs this summer.

TORRINGTON- A postponed start, a rain delay, and a couple injuries could not keep the Torrington Titans from sweeping the double header against the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks on Wednesday.

In the morning, Martha’s Vineyard experienced a communication issue with their bus company, resulting in a late arrival at Fuessenich Park and an hour later than scheduled start to game one of two.

“There was a mix up in our pick up time. We left at 9 a.m. and when we got off the ferry there was no bus. We had to wait two hours,” said Shark’s head coach Ted Currie.

Once the Sharks arrived they quickly warmed up and the first game of the double header was underway, or so everyone thought.

Titan’s starter, Kevin Bartlett, did not even get through the first batter before rain drops began falling on Fuessenich Park. He managed to get the Shark’s lead-off hitter to ground out to second, but the umpire had seen enough and called for a rain delay.

Despite the constant delays, Bartlett was able to rise above it all and throw 6.1 solid innings.

“This is the second time this has happened to me,” said Bartlett. “It’s rough. I was just trying to stay focused.
The Titans scored the first run of the game in the second inning. Kyle Murphy, who reached on a base-on-ball, scored on a wild pitch by the Shark’s starting pitcher Zach Rafferty.

In the top half of the third, the Sharks tied up the game when second baseman Eric Jensen singled home Tad Gold.

The Titans volleyed back with two more runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Rich Graef started it off by beating out an infield hit. He forced a wild throw during a pick-off attempt, landing him on third base. First baseman Andrew Spleth would doubled home Graef, as the Titans regained the lead.

In the same inning, designated hitter Andrew Nardone’s sacrifice fly drove in a Josh Simms, who reached on a base-on-ball, pushing the Titan’s lead to 3-1.

Torrington’s lead would be short-lived as back-to-back long balls by Martha’s Vineyard’s Jeremy Matos and Anthony Boix tied the score right back at 3-3.

A bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the sixth made the score 4-3 and put the Titans ahead for good.

However, things got interesting in the seventh inning. (Each game was shortened to seven innings due to the double header.)

It started when Coach Hunt had to keep Bartlett in the game because his relief pitcher, Jaren Spikes, had trouble getting loose. Spikes was forced to go in not fully warmed up and the Sharks took advantage as they rambled off two singles in a row.

The Titans’ needed to stop the rally before it was too late.

With one of the top hitters in the FCBL, Robbie Zinsmeister, on-deck, the Titans needed something to go in their favor. They caught the break they were looking for as the next batter lined into a double play to end the game.

Even with only five hits, the Titans were able to manufacture runs and catch the breaks they needed to walk away with the game one victory.

In game two, Torrington featured Bobby Chatfield, who was getting his first start of 2011 after joining the team in mid-June.

Chatfield looked to have the first game jitters as he walked three batters in a row to start the game but managed to escape the inning unscathed.

“My first inning was rough. I settled down after throwing a few more,” said Chatfield.

Martha’s Vineyard starting pitcher, Adam Cherry, did not share the same good fortune as Chatfield.

The Titans produced their only runs of the game, dropping four runs in the first inning, behind a bases-loaded triple by Ryan Sonberg (1-3 3rbi’s).

It was a good sign for both the Titans and Sonberg, who had been struggling at the plate before the long blast to right center gave the home team the lead.

Chatfield held the Sharks scoreless until the fifth inning as he was able to pitch his way out of jams.

The lead was chopped down to 4-2 when Martha’s Vineyard Tad Gold and Anthony Corona would get crossed the plate. Those would be last runs scored by either team.

Titan’s Jaren Spikes recorded his second save of the evening, in less-dramatic fashion than the first game.

The Titans (16-8) sit in second place, only a half game back from the Nashua Silver Knights (17-8). In this upcoming weekend, the Titans have a two-game home stand where they face-off against the Seacoast Mavericks on Friday and the Nashua Silver Knights on Saturday.

INJURY UPDATE: Titan’s centerfielder Rich Graef got hit in the hand while laying down a bunt in the first game. Coach Huntt says he will be expecting Graef to be in the lineup on Friday.

Shane O’Connell took a foul tip off his right hand while catching during the second game. He left the game and was taken to the hospital to get x-rays.


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