TORRINGTON >> Wednesday, in separate games, Torrington and Seymour put a total of 23 runs on the board (14 for Torrington) in bad season-opening games.
Friday, against each other, they turned it around to a nine-inning jewel in Seymour’s 1-0 win in the rain at Fuessenich Park.
Seymour’s Nick Kuzia (9 innings, 4 hits, 9 strikeouts, 1 walk) and Torrington lefty Shane Bierfeldt (8.2 innings, 1 earned run, 8 hits, 10 strikeouts, 1 walk) went at it stride-for-stride on the mound in a game that seemed lucky to make five innings in an early steady drizzle growing heavier as the frames rolled on.
Bierfeldt scattered more hits; Kuzia faced more serious threats.
Still, the score column was bare while the dampening field and pitchers’ arms reached the ninth in a “now-or-never” flurry.
In the top of the ninth, Kuzia made it “now” for the Wildcats.
Bierfeldt struck out the first Seymour batter, induced a ground-out for the second. Kuzia (2-for-4) hit his first pitch over Dom Sabia’s head in right field, then legged out a stand-up triple. Dan Godette followed with a base hit up the middle, sending Kuzia home with the winning run.
Torrington reliever Josh Rubino came on for the final Seymour out, with a walk and a called third strike.
It was Kuzia’s game if he could make it stick.
He did, but it was hard.
Lead-off Red Raider hitter Nate Manchester beat out a grounder up the middle, then went to second on a wild throw trying to catch him.
Bierfeldt lay down a great bunt, moving Manchester to third.
Stanly Rijo (1-for-4) hit sharply to short. Jake Walkinshaw fired home in time to get Manchester, two outs.
Ben Bonvacini (1-for-4, double) had one more chance for Torrington.
He streaked a low sinking liner to the left side of the infield. Walkinshaw dove to catch it on the fly at shoelace level.
The game was over.
“It was one of my best,” said Kuzia, who heads for Herkimer Community College (Herkimer, New York) next year.
“I felt good, but I didn’t think I’d go nine,” said Bierfeldt. “I was good for eight.”
“Shane Bierfeldt was phenomenal,” said Torrington coach Pat Richardson. “For the whole team to come out the way they did after our opener on Wednesday (28-14, St. Paul) showed a lot of heart and character.”
Both sides played that way.
The Wildcats came off a 9-8 opening win they tried to give away against Wilby Wednesday.
Behind stellar pitching, both teams looked like world beaters two days later.
“We made some really nice plays all day,” said Seymour coach Bob Kelo.
The first of them came in the second inning.
Bierfeldt gave up a harmless single each inning, to Walkinshaw and Godette.
Now, Bonvacini loomed as Torrington’s first batter, bottom of the second.
He rifled a drive over center fielder Nick D’Agostino’s head. It was an easy double, an iffy triple.
Bonvacini tried for the triple; D’Agostino’s throw was on the money for a long out.
Next up, Mitch Zagrodnik gave Walkinshaw his first big test at short. Walkinshaw went deep in the hole to make the play.
Bierfeldt bounced through the top of the third with great plays of his own — on a lead-off bunt and a come-backer to the mound.
Torrington freshman Dom Sabia started the Raider third inning with another double. He reached third on a nice-play ground-out to Kuzia.
Kuzia made that play, then got out of the jam with a strikeout and ground-out to third.
Next inning, Bierfeldt tried to surprise them with a lead-off bunt; no dice.
In the fifth, Walkinshaw went deep into foul territory for a lead-off Zagrodnik foul.
Kuzia picked a Torrington runner off second in the sixth.
Finally, the Raiders had a great chance at a Hollywood ending in the bottom of the seventh.
Stanly Rijo led off with an infield single ricocheting off Kuzia, then made it to third on wild pitches.
No outs, a speedy runner on third. Surely the Raiders would break through now.
Not if Kuzia could help it.
He could: strikeout, pop-up, strikeout.
For two more innings, the field held up; Kuzia’s arm held up.
Most important, in the ninth, so did his bat.
This time, though, both teams could grin in the rain.
SEYMOUR 1, TORRINGTON 0 (9)
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
Seymour 000 000 001 — 1 8 2
Torrington 000 000 000 — 0 4 0
Nick Kuzia and Jaylen Kelley; Shane Bierfeldt, Josh Rubino (9) and Ben Thompson.
WP: Kuzia (1-0). LP: Bierfeldt (0-1). 3B: S—Kuzia. 2B: Bonvacini; Dom Sabia.
Team records: Seymour 2-0; Torrington 0-2.