WATERBURY >> After an 0-3 start to the season, the Torrington Red Raiders regrouped and on Wednesday afternoon capped off the regular season taking home the Copper Division Title with a 10-3 win over Wilby.
“When we’re on, we are the best team in the NVL and can beat anyone,” Torrington senior John McCarthy said.
Torrington head coach Pat Richardson credits the team’s effort in practice for the turnover and eventually division champions.
“There was a lot of hard work in practice. Practice through preparation,” he said. “I really think that is where it started.”
After the slow start the Red Raiders won 15 of the next 17 games, one loss came in nine innings to Derby and there was an eight game win streak thrown in there.
“You got to get hot at the right time,” junior Ben Bonvicini said. “We had the rough start and now we have come out firing.”
This is the second Copper Division title in three years for Torrington.
Coming into the game the Red Raiders needed to beat Wilby to win the Copper Title, unless both Holy Cross and Naugatuck lost its games, but the pressure didn’t faze anyone on the team including freshman pitcher Jason Vinisko, who got the start.
“No not really, we have good fielders behind me and I just wanted to come in and throw strikes,” Said Vinisko who threw a complete game allowing seven hits, striking out two batters and allowed only two earned runs.
“Jason have proven that he can step up when needed,” Richardson said. “That shows a lot in a freshman.”
Richardson though did admit to some nerves.
“I have butterflies, before every game, before every inning,” he said. “I’ve been around long enough to know that anything can happen.”
It took a total team effort as the Red Raiders were playing in its fourth game in as many days. They were without starting right fielder Shane Bierfeldt who missed the game after hurting his back.
Junior, Josh Rubino started in place of Bierfeldt and made a diving catch in foul territory to end a bases loaded threat by the Wildcats.
Junior Anthony Pandolfo pinch ran for Bonvicini in the fifth and came around to score on a Vinisko base hit, senior Victor Rodriguez was called on to pinch run for Kobe Covington in the bottom of the sixth and stole second base, before coming around to score on Ben Thompson triple and then senior Matt Baril pinched hit for Vinisko in the seventh and took one for the team, getting hit.
“A lot of guys were willing to come in and they bought into the team concept,” Richardson said. “Not worrying about being selfish.”
Torrington got the scoring early with two runs in the top of the second on a two RBI double by Vinisko, scoring Bonvicini and Mitch Zagrodnik. They then added two more in the third on a Bonvicini two RBI single scoring Stanly Rijo and Dom Sabia pushing the Red Raiders to 4-0 lead.
The Wildcats didn’t go away quietly as they pushed two runners home in the bottom of the third, on a throwing error by Bonvicini and then an RBI single by Elias Torres.
After a scoreless fourth the Red Raider bats went back at it, pushing across three runs on an RBI groundout by Sabia and two RBI singles by Bonvicini and Vinisko.
“We come out and do what we can do,” Bonvicini said. “We can hit all around the lineup.”
The Wildcats would add one more in the bottom of the fifth but the Red Raiders responded with three more runs on Thompson’s triple and then back to back sacrifice flies by McCarthy and Sabia, extending the Red Raiders lead to 10-3.
Now on a five game winning streak heading into the NVL Tournament, which will begin on Saturday, the Red Raiders are playing some of its best baseball of the season and the confidence is riding high.
“We’re not about the rest on our laurels, they understand there’s a bigger picture,” Richardson said. “It’s possible (to win tournament), we’re not given anything, we will have to go out and earn the NVL championship, we’re going to go one game at a time.”
Torrington 10, Wilby 3
Torrington 022 033 0 — 10 10 1
Wilby 002 010 0 — 3 7 2
Jason Vinisko, Ben Thompson; Jacob Thomaston, Dillion Servino.
WP: Jason Vinisko (). LP: Jacob Thomas (). 2B: (WIB) Edward Gonzalez. 3B: (TO) Ben Thompson. RBI: McCarthy, Sabia (2), Bonvacini (3), Vinisko (3), Thompson (TO); Christian Castro, Elias Torres (WIB);
Team records: Torrington 15-5; Wilby 6-13.