TORRINGTON >> Torrington’s P38 American Legion team left a shimmering view of what might have been with a 9-0 win over Wolcott Thursday night at Fuessenich Park.
“Please introduce me to this team,” laughed Coach R.J. Poniatoski, after the P38s combined great pitching, hitting and defense with two games left in the regular season.
At 8-14 – eighth among Zone I’s nine teams – Torrington has no chance to play in a Legion state tournament that includes the top five teams in each zone.
Wolcott, 9-10, is sixth in the zone with five more games to play, trailing Bristol and Southington, both 9-8, by just half a game.
“There are a lot of games still to be played by teams above us,” said Wolcott coach Lou Perugini. “We’re still in the mix.”
So much the sadder for Torrington.
“Some days we come to play; some days we don’t. It’s summer,” said P38 John McCarthy. “If we played the way we did tonight, we could be the best team in the zone.”
“It’s easier when we get pitching like we did tonight,” said Nick Ganio.
“It’s easier to pitch when I get defense like this,” responded complete-game winner Matt McCarthy in a round-robin volley of post-game compliments.
Matt McCarthy (7 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks) started earning his compliments in the top of the first inning, three up, three down, in a pair of ground-outs and a strikeout.
His best and worst moments dovetailed in the top of the fifth. Nursing a 2-0 lead, the tall Litchfield High School senior-to-be hit one Wolcott batter, gave up his second hit to another and walked a third, all with one out.
Then he escaped.
Evan Shortsleeve speared a hot line drive at shortstop for the second out. A grounder to Shortsleeve for a fielder’s choice at second got the third.
Torrington carved its first two runs early on good at-bats and base-running.
Connor Rollins (2 runs) led off the bottom of the first with a walk. Shane Bierfeldt sacrificed him to second. Sam Shurberg (2-for-3, run) doubled him home.
Next inning, the same combination produced another run: Shortsleeve drew a lead-off walk, scrambled to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a double by Ganio (2-for-3, run).
Once the bases-loaded Wolcott threat ended in the top of the fifth inning, P38 bats breathed the sigh of relief.
Rollins and John McCarthy walked, one out. Shurberg loaded the bases with a single off Wolcott pitcher Vince Gambino’s foot. John Swanson cleared them with a double to deep right center field.
The P38 bats roared again in the sixth. Ganio and Jason Tyrrell started with a single and walk, one out. Bierfeldt singled in one run. John McCarthy banged a two-run triple off the right center field wall, then sprinted home on a lapse by Wolcott’s fielders, 9-0.
“I asked them, ‘Isn’t it easier when we play relaxed?’” said Coach Poniatoski.
The final view in the season’s rear view mirror was a good one.
Torrington P38s 9, Wolcott 0
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
Wolcott 000 000 0 – 0 3 2
Torrington 110 034 x – 9 7 0
WP: Matt McCarthy. LP: Vince Gambino. 3B: T – John McCarthy. 2B: W – Gambino. T – Sam Shurberg; John Swanson; Nick Ganio.
Records: Wolcott 9-10; Torrington 8-14