TORRINGTON >> Torrington’s baseball team rocked its fourth opponent in a row Friday afternoon at Fuessenich Park.
This time, Sacred Heart took the beating, 12-6, as the Red Raiders matched the 16-hit total they reached in a 14-0 shutout against Ansonia Monday.
Each time, the victims were decent teams.
Ansonia came in with just two losses against six wins Monday; Sacred Heart was a healthy 5-5 in the NVL, 5-6 overall, Friday.
Torrington (6-4) took undefeated Seymour to nine innings in a 1-0 loss as part of an 0-3 season start. Now the Raiders are rolling.
“Torrington did a very nice job putting the ball in play,” said veteran Sacred Heart coach Mark Saukas.
Torrington jumped on freshman starter Will Morales (3.1 innings, 7 earned runs, 7 hits, 1 walk) from the first inning, building a 9-1 lead through five before the Hearts caught up with Torrington starter Shane Bierfeldt (5.2 innings, 6 earned runs, 5 hits, 1 strikeouts, 6 walks) to make it a game in the top of the sixth.
“I got a little tired and they caught onto my off-speed pitches,” said Bierfeldt, who gave up just three hits and a walk in five innings before the Hearts jumped on his roof for five runs on three hits and four walks in the sixth.
With a comfortable margin, Torrington coach Pat Richardson let Bierfeldt go as long as he could.
“I was trying not to bring Nate Manchester in because he’s starting (Saturday) night,” Richardson said.
The Raiders go against second-place Naugatuck (9-2) at Norwich’s Dodd Stadium tonight at 6.
Nevertheless, there was still a game against Sacred Heart to put away.
The call went to freshman Jason Vinisko (1.1 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 strikeout), who came in with two outs, bases loaded, in a 9-6 game going bad for the Raiders.
Vinisko allowed a two-run single by the Hearts’ Peyton Stephens (2-for-4, double), then put out the fire.
“Jason got the job done and limited the damage,” said Richardson.
He was just as proud of his team’s reaction to the Sacred Heart rally.
“We responded every time they scored,” he said.
And sometimes when they didn’t.
Stanly Rijo (2-for-4, double, 2 RBI, 2 runs), John McCarthy (2-for-4, 2 runs) and Dom Sabia (2-for-4, 2 RBI) got it started in the first inning with a double and two singles, plus aggressive running on a pair of fielder’s choices for another.
After a leadoff Torrington error in the second, Bierfeldt led the defense with a dazzling play to third base on a comebacker to the mound, then cleared the last Heart runner with a pickoff throw ending in a rundown.
In the bottom of the inning, Manchester (3-for-3, double, 3 RBI, 3 runs) ran his way to another score. After Morales hit him with his first pitch, Manchester stole second, then third, scoring on Rijo’s ground-out to the mound.
“(Morales) is learning and gives us some good innings,” said Coach Saukus, “but when you make mistakes against a Torrington, they’re going to make you pay.”
Bierfeldt snagged a line drive zipping by the mound for the second out in the third inning. Then Stephens and Jamie Butler (2-for-4, double, RBI) combined for the Hearts’ first run on a double and single.
Torrington’s response came in the fourth, with doubles by Mitch Zagrodnik (3-for-4, 2 doubles, RBI, 3 runs) and Manchester, followed by one-out hits from Ben Thompson (2-for-2, 3 RBI, run) and Rijo.
“(Morales) was out there there throwing strikes. The guys in our lineup just had their bats swinging,” said Zagrodnik.
Proof came when Sacred Heart junior Matt Iannantuoni came in for Morales with one out in the fourth.
Down 6-1, Iannantuoni got the second out; then Sabia hammered an RBI double to the left center field wall, 7-1.
Torrington put on a defensive clinic in the top of the fifth: a double play started by McCarthy at second, then a highlight reel play by Zagrodnik at third.
In the bottom of the inning, Zagrodnik, Manchester and Thompson combined for two more runs on a double and two singles, 9-1
Out of sight? The Hearts didn’t think so. Butler, Mancini and Stephens had the only hits in the Sacred Heart sixth, but four walks helped pile up five runs and a potential Torrington crisis.
One more time, the Raider bats rolled.
McCarthy, Ben Bonvicini, Bierfeldt, Zagrodnik and Manchester all produced again: three more runs on Bierfeldt’s mammoth double and three singles — assurance for Vinisko, a freshman, on the mound.
Torrington 12, Sacred Heart 6
At Fuessenich Park, Torrington
Sacred Heart 001 005 0—6 8 0
Torrington 210 423 x—12 16 2
WP: Shane Bierfeldt. LP: Will Morales. 2B: SH—Peyton Stephens; Jamie Butler; Matt Delucia; Matt Mancini. T—Stanly Rijo; Bierfeldt; Mitch Zagrodnik 2; Nate Manchester.
Records: Sacred Heart 5-7 (5-6 NVL); Torrington 6-4.