TORRINGTON >> Torrington’s Ben Stone got the key hit late in a tight game at the top of the Connie Mack League, leading Sports Palace to a 2-1 win over first-place Amenia in the first game of a doubleheader at Fuessenich Park Thursday evening.
Amenia bats came back for a 9-7 win in the second.
“We always like to play Torrington because they’re a quality team,” said Amenia coach Bob Dunlop. “It was our No. 1 against their No. 1.”
Amenia won the coin flip for “home team” for the first game in the makeup series.
That led to a short-lived Torrington lead in the top of the first.
Manny Rijo (2-for-3, run) beat out an infield chop. Pat Baker (2-for-4) doubled him home, 1-0.
Amenia starter Mackenzie Dunlop (6 innings, 2 earned runs, 10 hits, 8 strikeouts, 3 walks) walked Ben Bonvicini, then shut the lid with two strikeouts and kept it shut for the next four innings.
Amenia evened the score in the bottom of the inning. LeShawn Thrasher singled, then stole second. A bad throw on the steal got him to third. A single by Dunlop brought him home, 1-1.
Torrington’s Cody Lemieux (7 innings, 1 earned run, 4 hits, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks) kept Amenia’s bats quiet for the rest of the game.
“That early run helped,” said the big incoming sophomore at Elms College (Worcester, Massachusetts).
Lemieux allowed just two more isolated hits. Dunlop scattered five in the next four innings, getting out of jams on his own or with great plays from his defense every time.
“We left too many men on base,” said Torrington Coach Bill Heintz.
The numbers (12 stranded base runners) agree, but the credit still goes to the Amenia defense and Dunlop, playing with a sore finger on his pitching hand.
With two runners on in the second inning, two outs, Dunlop struck out the third. With two on in the third inning, one out, Dunlop struck out the second and popped up the third.
In the one-two-three fourth, he had help from a great play at short by Nate Lamb.
Great catches in the fifth, by right fielder Ian Ridgway and center fielder Thrasher helped strand a seventh and eighth Sports Palace runner.
Bonvicini, Adam Fuoco and Stone made the hits finally count in the top of the sixth.
Bonvicini started it, legging out a double. Fuoco singled him to third.
A strikeout and pop-up made it look like one more frustrating inning for Torrington.
Instead, Stone lined his RBI single to the right centerfield gap, scoring pinch runner P.J. Kilmartin.
“We had a lot of guys on base,” said Stone. “I just wanted to get that run across.”
With the lead in hand, Lemieux wasn’t about to lift the lid.
He made a nice play of his own on a comebacker to the mound for the first out, bottom of six. Third baseman Baker made a circus catch on a foul ball for the second. Center fielder Stone hauled in a deep fly ball for three.
Dunlop’s brother Colby pitched the top of the seventh, stranding two more Torrington runners.
This game, Sports Palace wasn’t going to care.
A throwing error started the Amenia seventh. Nick Reilly reached first on a fielder’s choice, one out.
Micah Weaver hit a double play ball to short. Reilly was out at second, but the throw to first was wild.
Weaver headed for second. The throw from first baseman Bonvicini beat him, game over.
“Cody pitched a great game. This is a good-hitting team,” said Coach Heintz, in second place at 10-3 to Amenia’s 8-2.
In the nightcap, Amenia led 7-5 in the seventh. Torrington posted two runs for the tie, but Amenia starter Nate Lamb took a line drive to the stomach and went to Charlotte Hungerford for observation.
Amenia lessened the pain with two more runs for the win in the sixth.
Torrington Sports Palace 2, Amenia 1
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
Torrington 100 001 0 – 2 11 3
Amenia 100 000 0 – 1 4 0
WP: Cody Lemieux. LP: Mackenzie Dunlop. 2B: A – Colby Dunlop. T – Pat Baker; Ben Bonvicini.
Records: Torrington 10-3; Amenia 8-2.