Tri-State title goes to the Dogs
WATERBURY - It was like Tri-State Commissioner Ed Gadomski had one gigantic, juicy bone in his hands the way the Dogs were ready to pounce. But these were Naugatuck Dogs and Gadomski was toting around one rather huge Tri-State championship trophy.
Gadomski couldn’t get the trophy out to the field quick enough Wednesday night after the Dogs won their first ever Tri-State League title, 8-4, over the Tri-Town Trojans at Municipal Stadium to capture the championship series two games to none.
Winning never gets old as the Dogs reminded with their hugs, smiles, cheers, a hearty satisfaction and determination to get the gold out of the Commish’s hands.
The title came on Naugatuck’s third appearance in the finals in five years, one of the previous two losses coming to Tri-Town in 2013.
“We’ve won state titles and we’ve been here a few times on the wrong side,” said Naugatuck third baseman Kyle Murphy who contributed three hits including a two-run double in the third inning to the cause. “(Winning this title) is something we needed to x off the list. It’s all about being hot at the right time and catching breaks.”
No doubt about the being hot at the right time part, but the Dogs didn’t really need any or many breaks. In the championship game they banged out 14 hits while in the opener Tuesday night at Fuessenich Park they let loose with four home runs while pounding out a 13-2 victory.
This was about a stinging offensive surge. You don’t need too many breaks when you are beating the ball up and to all places while scoring 21 runs in two games.
“We came into (this series) and played a hot team,” said Tri-Town’s Dan McCarty. “We play baseball and good fundamental baseball but we ran into hot hitters. Look at the scoreboard tonight. We got outhit, 14-4. We did as much as we could.”
The Trojans (17-7) actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on the strength on an RBI double from Casey McDonald and a sacrifice fly from Steve Price. But Naugatuck was not invested into buying into any of it.
The Dogs put a run on the board in the second inning and went ahead in the third with two more runs, the big blow being Murphy’s two-run double into the left center field gap.
“I was just trying to focus on hitting a line drive,” said Murphy. “I was happy to be there for that.”
Finally ahead, the Dogs made sure they would stay ahead in the fourth inning with four more runs for a 7-2 lead. A leadoff double from Mack Cianciolo started the uprising and by the end of the inning there were four hits and an error in the books including an RBI single from Jeff Rustico.
The Dogs had 10 hits in the first four innings, finding holes, gaps, openings and a lot of open green grass. That was more than enough for Lance Stephens who went the distance, striking out eight and walking just two.
After the first inning, he was touched for two runs in the sixth but that was it.
“I felt like it was midnight by the fourth inning, there was a lot happening out there,” said Stephens. “I hadn’t pitched since June, but, I caught a second wind. It is the first championship and it feels great.”
Naugatuck (22-4) also got three hits and an RBI from Ryan Plourde and two hits and two RBI Rustico. Litchfield was led by McDonald with a pair of hits.
“This is the sixth time in eight years we have been in the finals. We have nothing to hang our heads about,” said McCarty.
Meanwhile, Naugatuck’s bucket list just got smaller and there were plenty of championship smiles to go around. They also got the trophy out of the commish’s hands.