TORRINGTON >> Well, that’s over.
St. Paul Catholic and Torrington combined for a 28-14 four-hour-nightmare Falcon baseball win that showed just how cold a windy mid-40s day can get.
Neither team is likely to forget this one, no matter how hard they try.
Clearly, it was a hitters’ day. Thanks to that, many batters will find fond moments, but, by the time they reach back to a 17-run St. Paul fifth inning, the memories all turn dark.
“Maybe I should have pulled them earlier, but, on opening day, I had to let my starters play,” said St. Paul coach Pat Holden.
For much of the game, that might not have mattered, as slow roller after slow roller on the soft ground went for hits, along with flies that twisted and turned in a swirling wind and fielders’ hands that got cold with the chill.
In all, the Falcons pumped out 25 hits for their 28 runs, along with 11 walks and three Torrington errors.
The Red Raiders had 15 hits of their own, combined with six walks and two Falcon errors.
The “nightmare” term might be narrowed down to pitchers and some fielding moments while some batters’ best dreams came true.
“Every coach in the league wonders what their offense is going to do on the first day,” said Holden. “We just want them to put the ball in play.”
That was the key to hits on Wednesday.
Leadoff Falcon Troy Micale (4-for-4, 2 doubles, 5 RBI, 3 runs scored) opened with a fly ball into the wind that curled around for a double in right field. Jake Kawiecki (3-for-4, 2 walks, 3 RBI) drew the day’s first walk. Then Josh Dobratz (4-for-6, 2 doubles, triple, 4 RBI) found the wind in left for another double.
Leading 2-0, winning pitcher Jared Valois held the lead through the bottom of the first, but two Torrington hits, by Stanly Rijo (3-for-3, double, triple, 4 RBI, 2 walks) and Ben Bonvicini (2-for-4, 2 RBI, run) showed the pain coming for pitchers on the ground as well.
St. Paul scored another run in the second with the help of a Torrington error.
Then the Raiders firmly established it as a hitters’ day with what looked then like a huge seven-run second.
Mitch Zagrodnik (RBI, 2 runs), John McCarthy (2-for-3, double, 2 RBI), Ben Thompson (RBI, run), Nate Manchester (2-for-3, 2 runs); Shane Bierfeldt (2-for-5, double, 2 RBI, 2 runs) and Rijo racked up seven hits for a 7-3 Torrington lead.
For a while, it looked like the last team up would win.
St. Paul took back the lead, 9-7, with two runs in the third and four more in the fourth.
That ended Manchester’s day on the mound.
It took three more pitchers to quell the Falcons in the top of the fifth. When the smoke cleared, the debris showed 13 Falcon hits and 7 walks.
The Raiders were back for six more runs in the bottom of the fifth on three hits, three walks and a hit batter while Valois gave way to two more pitchers.
After a combined 23-run inning, the game still had two more innings left.
When it was done, every St. Paul hitter had at least one hit and one run scored.
At the bottom of the order, Ben Mazzone, the No. 7 batter, was 2-for-5, 4 RBI, 3 runs; Jackson Hines, 3-for-4, RBI, 4 runs scored; Brendan Prenovost, 2-for-2, 2 RBI, 3 runs.
“Our defense didn’t help our pitchers,” said coach Pat Richardson, pointing at drop-in hits that might have been caught, as well as the errors.
“But,” he said, “it’s just one game in a long season and we swung the bats.”
It was precisely that kind of a day.
St. Paul Catholic 28, Torrington 14
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
St. Paul 212 4(17)1 1—28 25 2
Torrington 070 160 0—14 15 3
WP: Jared Valois. LP: Nate Manchester. 3B: SP—Josh Dobratz. T—Stanly Rijo. 2B: SP—Troy Michale 2; Dobratz 2; Kyle MacLean; J.D. Konikowski.
Records: St. Paul 0-1; Torrington 1-0.