TORRINGTON >> Torrington Sports Palace hustled its way into first place in the seven-team Northwest CT Connie Mack League Monday night with an 11-1 mercy-rule shortened win over Waterbury Monday night.
In a league points system that awards three points for a win and one for a loss, Torrington’s 5-3 record trumps defending champion Winsted’s 5-2 following a Winsted loss at undefeated Amenia (4-0) Monday night.
“It’s early,” said Torrington coach Bill Heintz, whose team lost to Winsted Saturday.
Still, Monday’s result against 4-4 Waterbury was its own lesson in hustle and desire for Torrington.
Adam Fuoco, an infielder who last pitched a year-and-a-half ago, took the mound for Torrington.
“We needed pitching,” he grinned after limiting Waterbury to just two hits in five innings. “I have a fastball, two-seam, change and curve, but they’re rusty.”
They all looked good to Waterbury.
Fuoco walked leadoff batter Sam Catalano in the top of the first. Catalano scored on a steal and two ground-outs, followed by a hit by Stephen Macary.
After that, it all came back to Fuoco – mainly the part about throwing strikes and letting a good defense do its job.
Fuoco ended the first with his only strikeout, then walked just two more batters while the Sports Palace defense glowed.
Second-baseman Matt Baril made a nice stab on a hard line drive in the third inning.
Third-baseman Pat Baker dove for a soft line drive, ending the fifth inning, then took over the mound, sealing the sixth inning with a fly-out to center field and two strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Torrington’s offense romped from the start.
Sports Palace scored six runs in the first inning on just two hits – singles by Ben Vonvicini (2-for-3, triple, 2 RBI, 2 runs) and Baril, plus three walks and two Waterbury errors.
“We got to use our speed,” said Coach Heintz, after his kids made the most of their gifts all night.
Ben Stone was a prime example in the third inning. He beat out a throw from deep in the left-side hole, stole second and third, then raced in for the run on a wild pitch, 7-1.
Manny Rijo made the most of a dropped ball in the outfield in the fourth. He got to second on the error, third on a ground-out, then home on another wild pitch.
Waterbury’s Dante Sagnatelli (5.1 innings, 8 earned runs, 8 hits, 4 strikeouts, 8 walks, 1 hit batter) struggled on the mound, but balanced it with Waterbury’s last hit, a double in the third inning.
“When your errors (three) outnumber your hits, you can’t win,” said Waterbury coach George Gomes. “We normally hit.”
Give credit to an arm that showed more willingness than rust on Monday.
After Baker made short work of the top of the sixth, Sports Palace batters made short work of the game in the bottom frame.
Connie Mack has a 10-run mercy rule. Torrington reached the 10-run difference on hits by Ben Thompson, Bonvicini (2-run triple) and Nick Santillo (RBI double), plus a final two walks.
“It was a comfortable win,” said Coach Heintz.
Torrington Sports Palace 11, Waterbury 1 (6)
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
Waterbury 100 000 – 1 2 3
Torrington 601 103 – 11 8 0
WP: Adam Fuoco. LP: Dante Sagnatelli. 3B: T – Ben Bonvicini. 2B: W – Sagnatelli. T – Nick Santillo.
Records: Waterbury 4-4; Torrington 5-3.