TORRINGTON >> Torrington Sports Palace eliminated Litchfield from the six-team Connie Mack Playoffs with an 8-5 win both more and less indicative than the final score showed.
The “more” was Torrington’s commanding 8-1 lead after just four innings at Fuessenich Park Friday night.
The “less” was an equal number of hits on both sides – 10 apiece – and Litchfield’s seemingly-unstoppable 4-run drive in the sixth inning for a late-inning challenge.
“We were just good enough to get to the next stage,” said Torrington Coach Bill Heintz.
The game pitted Torrington’s three seed (13-7) against No. 6 Litchfield (5-15) and the difference glared through the first four innings.
Starters D.J. Reynolds (Torrington) and Ryan O’Bernier (Litchfield) rely on off-speed pitches for their effectiveness.
Lead-off hitters for both teams did their best to cope.
“I just waited for his fastball,” said Garrett Coughlan, beginning a perfect night (3-for-3, walk, RBI, run scored) with a drive up the middle in the top of the first.
Torrington’s Josh Rubino did the same thing in the bottom of the inning, taking a first-pitch fastball to deep left field for a double.
Differences showed up after each batter.
Reynolds’ curve was masterful for the first three innings and so was his defense.
With Coughlan on base in the first, he struck out the next better on a sweeping curve. Torrington centerfielder Jimmy Lamana took away a sure hit to the right-center gap with a great catch, then doubled Coughlan off first, no damage done.
In the bottom of the inning, O’Bernier’s defense let him down with an error putting Reynolds (2-for-4, RBI, 2 runs) on first after Rubino’s hit. Riley Shreders (2-for-4, 2 runs) and Kobe Covington followed with an RBI single and a 2-run double.
In the third inning, the hits kept coming for Torrington with singles by Reynolds and Shreders. So did another Litchfield error, costing two more Torrington runs.
Coughlan, a Litchfield High School graduate heading for Quinnipiac, scored in the fourth after a walk and a Torrington error, but hits by Zack Waterfall and Matt Schweter (2-for-4, double, RBI, run) went for nothing as Sports Palace wiggled out of a bases-loaded Litchfield threat.
Meanwhile, Torrington tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the inning on hits by Mike Paniati, Owen Spino, Rubino (2-run triple) and Reynolds.
Hits were equal but Litchfield left 10 runners on base, Torrington just five.
Nevertheless, Litchfield turned it around in the final innings.
O’Bernier allowed just one Torrington hit in the bottom of the fifth. His batters jumped on Sports Palace relief pitchers for doubles by Schweter and Noah Waterfall (2 RBI), hits by O’Bernier and Couglan and two walks.
The total was four runs and a promise for next year.
“We’re bringing everyone back,” said Litchfield Coach Ray Michanczyk.
Torrington plays Round Two of the single elimination phase of the tournament this afternoon at 5 p.m. against No. 2 seed Waterbury at Bucks Hill Park.
No. 4 seed New Milford, 6-4 winner over No. 5 Terryville Friday night, plays at No. 1 Amenia at 7 p.m.
No. 3 Torrington Sports Palace 8, No. 6 Litchfield 5
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
Litchfield 000 104 0 – 5 10 4
Torrington 302 300 X- 8 10 1
WP: D.J. Reynolds. LP: Ryan O’Bernier. 3B: T – Josh Rubino. 2B: L – Matt Schweter; Noah Waterfall. T – Rubino; Kobe Covington.
Records: Litchfield 5-15; Torrington 13-7.