Torrington baseball proving to be one resilient bunch. Get by Watertown, 8-7.
TORRINGTON: On a day when balls were flying all over Fuessenich Park, it’s ironic that a ball that traveled about 20-feet led to the game winning run scoring in the Torrington baseball teams 8-7 win over rival Watertown on a bright, warm spring afternoon.
Kyle Banche scored all the way from first after a perfect bunt by Ryan Ahlman was thrown far down the right field line in a crazy, bottom of the seventh play.
The last inning heroics, which happened after the Indians had rallied from down 7-2 in the top of the sixth, was just another example of how this team tends not to put their heads down, regardless of whether they had just given back what seemed like a comfortable lead an inning earlier.
Head coach Pat Richardson is getting used to this kind of never-say-die attitude from a team that is now on a three-game winning streak.
“Today was a good example of the team not getting down,” Richardson said. “They pick each other up. Like I have said before, this is the best team chemistry, having each-others back group I’ve ever had.”
With the win, their best quality win of the year to date, the Raiders improve to 7-5 while Watertown slips to the same mark at 7-5.
As mentioned in the open, this first warm breezy day at the big ball park saw balls carrying for both teams all game long.
In a week where the Raiders have three tough games, the Indians, St Paul on Tuesday (11-2) and Naugatuck (on the road), pitching is at a premium and Richardson needed a quality start from sophomore Kyle Banche who did just that even while working out of trouble in nearly every inning.
Banche has shown a tendency to push his way through adversity and he was able to over the first two innings, despite lead off triples in both innings that resulted in the game’s first run in the top of the second and an unearned run in the top of the third.
Torrington, showing that resiliency they have exhibited all season, came back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third when centerfielder Aaron Bainer launched a deep two-run triple.
Bainer swung the bat really well on Tuesday, as he has for so much of this season while playing a terrific centerfield.
Torrington went ahead on an RBI single by Casey Navin in the bottom of the third and took a four-run lead in their half of the fourth, courtesy of a long home run off the bat of catcher Cam Cerruto who is simply having a senior year to remember.
After Bainer smacked a long double with two outs, CJ Root followed with single top left, putting runners on second and third.
In what has become a common theme this season in a good way for the Raiders, Cerruto crushed a fastball deep into the Naugatuck River for a 6-2 lead.
It’s been fun to watch the West Point bound Cerruto attack at the plate this year. Why anyone would throw him a fastball at this point is beyond me and his sixth long ball of the year was another example of how he has matured as a hitter this year.
“The great thing about Cam right now is that he’s not trying to force the issue,” Richardson said. “He’s staying within himself and he’s staying in there, trusting his hands and just waiting for his pitch.”
Forget about running on the strong armed back stop. He’s got a rifle for an arm.
Ahlman, a senior, singled in what looked at the time like an add on run with a single that plated Ben Richardson in the bottom of the fifth but it turned out the home team needed every last one.
In a hard luck top of the sixth for Banche, the Indians took advantage of an error and a misplayed ball in the outfield which opened the floodgates on a five-run inning, capped off by a long, two-run home run by Watertown senior Daniel Graziano to knot things at seven.
A lesser character team may have folded at this point, especially after leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth with just one out but this does not seem to be that kind team, one that gives up.
“There was just an anticipation in this game,” Richardson said. “That no matter what happened, we were going to figure it out. Everybody had a hand in this one.”
Adam Vanotti, another sophomore, came in to relieve Banche in the sixth and worked around a one out double in the top of the seventh with the help of a terrific catch by Cerruto on a foul pop right by the screen behind the plate.
Did I mention the seniors defense?
Cerruto also made a running catch near his own dugout in the sixth inning, one that he collided with Banche, who was now at third but bounced up nicely from the hit.
Banche led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left center and was on first as Ahlman stepped to the plate with the bunt sign on.
“I was just trying to get a good bunt down,” Ahlman said. “We practice that all the time in practice and I was just happy I got it down.”
It was a perfect bunt, one that forced the Indians first baseman, who was playing in, to field it but his throw went far over the second basemen’s head and down the right field line with speed.
Banche, who had worked hard on the mound and then in the field, had one more job and that was to score all the way from first, which he did.
“I’m a little bit tired,” Banche laughed as he caught his breath.
His teammates were happy he had enough left in the tank to win an important game against a division foe.
The Raiders will be back in action on Tuesday at 3:45 against the second-place team in the Naugatuck Valley League when the Falcons invade Fuessenich on Wednesday.
They hope to stay as hot as they weather is forecast to be as this strange spring gives us a taste of summer.