TORRINGTON >> A pair of standout freshmen led Torrington’s baseball team to a 9-2 win over Kennedy at Fuessenich Park Wednesday afternoon.
Jason Vinisko, making his first start for the Raiders, came away with a six-inning gem — 1 earned run, 4 hits, 7 strikeouts, 2 walks.
Dom Sabia gave new meaning to the designated hitter spot — 4-for-4 with a double, triple and 4 RBI.
With two nine-inning one-run heartaches in its loss column, Torrington (3-4) came out hungry for the win against 0-7 Kennedy.
A strong wind helped the Raiders pound out 13 hits, including five in the first inning for a 6-0 lead.
“Scoring early was nice,” said Torrington coach Pat Richardson. “Then we played D behind (Vinisko).”
“They hit the ball early and we couldn’t get back,” said Kennedy coach Mike Aftowski. “That’s been our MO — early in the game, we don’t play well.”
Still, the Eagles gave Vinisko an early test.
In the top of the first, Kennedy lead-off hitter John McMahon dropped a pop fly into short left field, stole second and made third on a fly to right field. Vinisko got another fly-out to right, then walked Nick Forino.
With runners on the corners, two outs, the freshman threw his first varsity K, right on time.
In the bottom of the inning, Shane Bierfeldt, Stanley Rijo and Ben Bonvicini loaded the bases on two hits and a walk with one out.
Freshman Sabia’s first big hit of the game also soared right on time — a two-run double to right center field.
“We had runners on base, so I tried to hit it to the opposite field,” said Sabia. “The whole team hit well today.”
But nobody quite as well as Sabia.
“Dom can hit it to all fields,” said Richardson. “He’s beyond his years.”
Down 2-0, Kennedy threw in another run with an infield error.
Torrington senior Mitch Zagrodnik followed with a two-run triple to right center.
Manny Rijo got him home on a ground-out for the 6-0 lead.
Vinisko hummed on the mound for the next two innings, striking out all three of the batters he faced in the second, then getting a strikeout and two grounders to short in the third.
“I felt good,” he said. “The work I’m doing in the gym with the catchers has helped my location and curve ball a lot since the beginning of the season.”
His heat wasn’t bad in the frigid wind either.
Torrington added another run in the second inning on a double and single by Bonvacini and Sabia.
Kennedy starter Jon Alvarado found his stuff in the third.
Zagrodnik and Manny Rijo started the inning with singles. Vinisko (1-for-2, double) sacrificed them to second and third. Alvarado let himself off the hook with back-to-back strikeouts.
Vinisko took a detour of his own in the fourth.
After two quick Kennedy outs, Jake D’Alusio grounded through the left side, then reached second on a wild pitch. Tyler Baptista waited out a walk.
Both moved up on a wild pitch. Jovanni Alvarado singled up the middle for a run.
Vinisko thought back to his curve, buckling the final batter with a bender that began at his shoulders and twisted through to his knees.
Jon Alvarado left in the fifth.
Torrington’s defense had its flashiest moment in the sixth.
Forina hit a one-out grounder down the third-base line. D’Alusio followed with a sharp grounder just left of second. Raider shortstop Stanly Rijo tossed to John McCarthy for one out. McCarthy’s relay to first was wide, smacking into the wall behind first. Catcher Ben Thompson, backing up the play, took it on the bounce, caught D’Alusio two yards off the base and started a run-down. Rijo ran D’Alusio down for the double play.
The Raiders celebrated with two more runs in the bottom of the inning.
Stanly Rijo doubled, then scored on a Sabia triple that tried to the centerfield fence.
McCarthy singled Sabia home.
With one more inning to go, Vinisko finally eased up.
“I was a little tired,” he grinned.
The Eagles loaded the bases on an infield error and two walks, no outs.
Coach Richardson brought sophomore Nate Manchester to the mound.
Manchester unleashed a wild pitch for one Kennedy run, then turned killer.
Three straight strikes after the wild pitch got the first out. Another five pitches struck out the second. Five more brought a pop fly to rightfielder Shane Bierfeldt for the final out.
The Raiders move on to 3-4 Watertown Friday.
Kennedy Coach Aftowski takes solace in his team’s turnaround a year ago.
“My kids are inexperienced,” he said. “Last year, we started out 3-8 and got hammered up here. Then, by the end of the season, we won by a run at our place.”
Torrington 9, Kennedy 2
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
Kennedy 000 100 1—2 4 1
Torrington 610 002 x—9 13 1
WP: Jason Vinisko. LP: Jon Alvarado. 3B: T—Dom Sabia; Mitch Zagrodnik. 2B: T—Stanly Rijo; Ben Bonvincini; Sabia; Vinisko.
Records: Kennedy 0-7; Torrington 3-4.