TORRINGTON – C.J. Root and Nick Balducci combined for Torrington High School’s first no-hitter in recent memory on the way to a 7-0 win over Crosby Wednesday afternoon at Torrington’s Fuessenich Park.
With a weather-jammed four games on the Red Raider schedule this week, Coach Pat Richardson called on Root, his usual second-baseman/reliever for the start, hoping to stretch his pitching arms.
“We knew (Root) didn’t have a lot of experience this season, so we thought we’d jump on him early,” said Crosby coach Joe Bandurski.
Root turned that thought around, jumping on the Bulldogs instead.
Mixing a lively fastball with a devastating curve, the senior righthander threw nothing but strikes in his first five pitches, nothing but strikeouts for Crosby’s first six outs, totaling 12 strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work.
Root’s only problem was a sporadic loss of control.
“It was my stride,” he said.
Wednesday, his six walks just made it more interesting against a Bulldog team (3-9; 2-9 NVL) suffering through its third no-hitter of the season.
Root followed his first two strikeouts with two walks, then struck out the last batter in the first inning. Three walks and a Torrington error loaded the bases in the top of the third after an opening strikeout and a picked off runner. Root fielded a comebacker for the final out, then glided through the next two innings with five more strikeouts against six batters.
Nevertheless, the extra-pitch walks cost him the chance to finish the job when he hit the CIAC’s maximum pitch count with one out in the top of the sixth.
Shortstop Nick Balducci, another seldom-used Torrington righthander, took on the task of closing it out.
“To tell you the truth, I knew C.J. was throwing well, but I didn’t know it was a no-hitter until I heard the chirping from the dugout,” Balducci said. “I just kept throwing.”
Balducci, another Torrington senior, faced just five more Bulldogs, adding three more strikeouts to the count.
Meanwhile, Raider batters gave Root just enough for an early lead with one run on a pair of hits by freshman Jake Groebl (2-for-3, 2 runs, RBI) and Kyle Banche (2-for-3, 2 runs, RBI) in the third against Crosby starter Elias Diaz-Padilla (3 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk) and two more in the fifth when the Raiders turned to small-ball, combining good bunts with Bulldog errors for the extra spread on the scoreboard.
By the bottom of the sixth inning, Torrington (3-7) feasted on Crosby’s third and fourth pitchers of the game for four more runs on four walks and hits by Groebl; (RBI) Aaron Bainer (RBI double); and Charlie Pataky (2 RBIs).
“Our pitching has been good all year, but we need more hitting” Richardson said. “The bunts were key today.”
Somewhere there’s a baseball maxim that says, when pitchers throw like Root and Balducci did on Wednesday, just a few hits will do.