TORRINGTON >> Torrington High School’s baseball stars shone bright in the Red Raiders’ first win of the season, 2-1 over Wolcott (0-6) at Fuessenich Park Thursday afternoon.
Shane Bierfeldt left Wolcott batters with nightmares featuring his curve. John McCarthy and Mitch Zagrodnik combined for hits when Torrington needed them most.
“It’s a huge thing; there’s a hunger factor,” said Zagrodnik, leading his team to its first win in five tries this season with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh.
“Everyone’s happy; everyone’s up. You want some more,” agreed Bierfeldt, reeling off 11 strikeouts in his second tight game of the season.
Last Friday, the senior left-hander (7 innings, 1 earned run, 8 hits, 0 walks) went almost nine innings before Seymour broke through for a winning run.
Thursday, Wolcott sophomore Isaiah Negretti-Flannery pulled the same short straw after giving up just four hits and a run over the first six innings.
“I was ready (to go nine again),” Bierfeldt grinned.
“He was lights out today,” said Torrington coach Pat Richardson. “He mixed his pitches. He’s been in a groove the last two games with three pitches — his curve, fastball and change-up. The big thing is he’s keeping the ball down.”
Bierfeldt’s curve was a knee-buckler Thursday, bending down out of sight for Eagle batters.
“It’s been my signature pitch since Little League,” said Bierfeldt.
“You can’t win if you’re hitting .117 as a team,” grumbled Wolcott coach Tary Scott. “We left 13 men on base against Holy Cross (a 5-4 loss) and 13 more against Wilby (4-2 Wilby). We just can’t get the big hit when we need it.”
McCarthy and Zagrodnik filled the void for Torrington Thursday.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, McCarthy strung a grounder through the left side for a hit.
Zagrodnik took a pitch, then laced Negretti-Flannery’s second offer down the right field line in a curving line drive.
Eagle right fielder Todd Manzolli almost got to it, hitting it with his glove just before it bounced over the foul line.
Umpires ruled it fair.
McCarthy, a senior, raced home to a Torrington celebration.
Early in the game, safe bets went the other way.
Bierfeldt struck out four of the first five batters he faced, three of them with his diving curve ball.
Nevertheless, with two outs in the top of the second, Wolcott’s Tyler Fernandes looped a fly-ball single over second base, then reached second on a wild pitch.
Elias Torres ripped a double down the third base, scoring Fernandez, 1-0.
On the other side, Negretti-Flannery’s defense did the job for him — three grounders in the first, a hit by Ben Bonvacini that ended in a double play in the second and a fly-out.
Bierfeldt was back on top in the third, with two more strikeouts.
In the bottom of the inning, Negretti-Flannery served up grounders again. The first was an out.
Manny Rijo hit the second one slowly to short, then raced down the line for a base hit.
He stole second, then waited through another ground-out.
Nate Manchester broke the string. His line drive single up the middle sent Rijo home with a 1-1 tie that looked semi-permanent.
Wolcott’s Charles Ciampi (2-for-3, double) singled in the fourth. Bierfeldt left the Eagle runner on second.
Stanly Rijo led off with a double in the bottom of the inning. Negretti-Flannery left him on second.
Torres and Vincent Gambino (2-for-3, double) singled in the fifth. The Raiders caught Torres in a rundown for the second out. Bierfeldt’s eighth strikeout got the third.
Bierfeldt’s biggest test came in the top of the sixth.
Brandon Lanzara and Ciampi led off with a single and double. Bierfeldt made a great play off the mound for one out, struck out the second and got a fly ball to right for the third, still 1-1.
“Despite our records, they’re a good team, we’re a good team,” said Coach Richardson. “It was going to be us or them today.”
In the bottom of the seventh, McCarthy and Zagrodnik stood up and said, “Us!”
Torrington 2, Wolcott 1
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
Wolcott 010 000 0—1 8 0
Torrington 001 000 1—2 5 2
WP: Shane Bierfeldt. LP: Isaiah Negretti-Flannery. 2B: W—Charles Ciampi; Elias Torres. T—Stanly Rijo; Mitch Zagrodnik.
Records: Wolcott 0-6; Torrington 1-4.