TORRINGTON >> Pitching, power and speed did the job in Torrington Sports Palace’s 7-1 win over New Milford in a Connie Mack baseball league opener for both teams Monday night at Torrington’s Fuessenich Park.
Josh Rubino (0 runs, 2 hit, 6 strikeouts) went five strong innings for Torrington. Spencer Cerruto (1 earned run, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks) added two more for a combined four-hitter.
New Milford ran through five pitchers, limiting Sports Palace to five hits.
Two of them were huge.
Manny Rijo blasted a moon shot over the left field fence for a 2-0 Torrington lead in the first inning.
Torrington speed got three more runs in.
Another blast over the left field fence, by Pat Baker, finished it off with two more.
“This is a good team,” said Torrington coach Bill Heintz, while cautioning it’s way too early to take things for granted.
Danbury joined the eight-team league this year with a strong entry. Amenia brings all but one player back from last year. Two-time defending champion Winsted brings everyone back for a chance at a three-peat.
And New Milford may be a different story next time.
“I made sure everyone got in tonight,” said Coach Jim Smith. “We haven’t had a lot of time, so I wanted to get a look at everyone. We’ll look forward to playing (Torrington) again.”
For now, Torrington, which went 11-10 last year, couldn’t ask for a better opener.
“We’ve had five or six practices; we’re much better than last year,” said Heintz.
Rubino started proving it in the top of the first.
He gave up a lead-off hit to Anthony Casa (2-for-3), then blanked everyone else until Casa came up with another single in the fourth inning.
“I changed my arm angles,” Rubino said. “I started experimenting with more of a side-arm late in the high school season.”
Rijo was the next to impress a good crowd of Torrington fans.
Ben Stone led off the bottom of the first with a walk. Rijo (2 RBI, 2 runs) blasted his home run.
“I just did everything my Dad told me to do—keep my head in and stay calm,” Rijo said. “His pitches were kind of slow, so I had to stay back.”
Up 2-0, Sports Palace scored again in the third, on another walk to Stone, base hit by Baker (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and a New Milford throwing error that showed off Stone as one of the speedsters, coming in from third base.
Matt Baril and Nick Santillo joined the speedster club in the fifth. Baril reached on an infield error, stole second then scored on back-to-back wild pitches.
Santillo walked, stole second and came in on two more wild pitches.
With just one out, the power came back on.
Rijo drew a walk. Baker smashed him home, 7-0.
“This was my first game since last summer, so I was a little nervous,” grinned Baker.
Dan Sheehan, New Milford’s fourth pitcher in the showcase scored his team’s only run in the top of the sixth.
Spencer Cerruto out-did Baker in potential rustiness. It’s been two years since he last pitched.
With a huge Torrington cushion, it was time to see what he might bring back.
The rustiness showed in back-to-back lead-off walks to Sheehan and Eric Gaylord. A ground-out moved them up a base.
Cerruto found his stuff for a strikeout. Then Mike Dolcimacado lined an RBI single to right.
Sheehan scored. Gaylord rounded third right behind him. Santillo, in right field for Torrington, was way too quick for him.
His throw to Ben Thompson at the plate beat Gaylord by five steps.
When Cerruto closed out the seventh with two more strikeouts, Torrington’s opening night was officially a success.
Torrington Sports Palace 7, New Milford 1
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
New Milford 000 001 0—1 4 2
Torrington 201 040 x—7 5 0
WP: Josh Rubino. LP: Brett Waldren. HR: T—Manny Rijo; Pat Baker.
Records: New Milford 0-1; Torrington 1-0.