TORRINGTON — While no one knew what to expect this season following a COVID-forced year off, surprises — good and bad — are proving to be an integral part of the landscape.
“So far, the NVL looks like a league of haves and have-nots,” said Torrington coach Pat Richardson, following a slew of blow-outs on Saturday’s opening day.
Following a preseason during which Richardson had to introduce himself to many of his players, who were either freshmen or middle school students two years ago, his Raiders posted their second mercy-rule win Monday afternoon with an 11-2 victory over Sacred Heart.
Sophomore pitcher Joe DiPippo proved himself one of Torrington’s happy surprises, along with senior returner Ben Smith.
“(DiPippo) limited the damage in the early innings, mixed his pitches and showed real maturity out there,” Richardson said.
The Hearts stood on the have side of Richardson’s equation for the first three innings Monday. Jesse Swortort touched DiPippo for the first hit of the game with one out in the first inning, reached second on a wild pitch, then sprinted home on an Xavier Gonzalez double to Fuessenich Park’s left field fence.
A pick-off by Raider catcher Ray Campbell and DiPippo’s second strikeout of the inning erased the threat, but Hearts starter Tyler Siluk held the Raiders toone hit for three innings, when a single run seemed like enough.
However, with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Torrington’s Brian Duman and Nick Basso hit back-to-back singles. Siluk posted his fourth and final strikeout before Smith drove in two runs with a double to right.
“I saw a lot of pitches early and he was slowing down in velocity,” said Smith, whose key hit opened the door to three more Raider runs in the fourth and another six in the fifth.
Smith finished with three RBIs. Tyler Semonich had a triple and two RBIs. Jason Karpeichik kept the fourth inning alive with an RBI single.
Thes Raiders scored six runs in the fifth despite getting just one hit, by Campbell, as two more Hearts pitchers produced the bad surprises with a pair of hit batters, three walks and a two-run error.
“We have 14 kids on the team but had to struggle to get them,” said Sacred Heart coach Brian Stasaitis, who endured the worst surprises of all when he was hired last year just before COVID canceled the season, then learned before this season began that his school was closing this year.
On the other side, DiPippo, in middle school when it all began, was elated.
“It feels great,” he said after he allowed three hits, struck out six and walked none. “I felt better on every pitch.”
Sacred Heart 1 (5)
Sacred Heart100 00 — 1 3 3
Torrington000 56 — 11 7 3
WP: Joe DiPippo. LP: Tyler Siluk. 3B: T — Tyler Semonich. 2B: SH — Xavier Gonzalez; Billy French. T — Jake Groebl; Nick Basso; Ben Smith.
Records: Sacred Heart 0-1; Torrington 2-0.