TORRINGTON — Almost a month ago, Torrington bats bombed Wolcott pitcher Kyle Hensel in a big second-day comeback win for the Raiders at Wolcott High School.
Saturday afternoon at Torrington’s Fuessenich Park, Hensel, a last-minute starting change, threw a one-hit shutout against those same Torrington bats for a 10-0 six-inning mercy rule Wolcott win.
“We came a long way since (Torrington’s 13-3 win at Wolcott),” Hensel said. “Now, we play as a team.”
“We’re starting to grind out our at-bats,” said Wolcott coach Jay Rocca, whose 11-5 Eagles boast a six-game winning streak in the NVL.
“Before, we were striking out maybe two or three times an inning,” Rocca said. “Now, we’re forgetting our egos, putting the ball in play to pressure defenses.”
Torrington coach Pat Richardson, closing in on his 10-5 Raiders’ best season in years, lays it at the feet of baseball.
“We were at the opposite end at Wolcott,” Richardson said. “Today, we just got beat in every facet of the game.”
What should have been a close game started out just that way.
After two quick outs in the top of the first inning, Torrington’s sophomore ace, Joe DiPippo, loaded the bases on a single, double and a walk, then escaped with just one Wolcott run when Devin Fuegen crossed the plate before Torrington completed a fielder’s choice at second for the final out.
In the bottom of the inning, Wolcott outfielder Andy Rocca dove for a circus catch in right field on the first Torrington batter. An Eagle coach called it an early key to the game after the next two Raiders walked and stroked a single up the middle.
Hensel (6 innings, 1 hit, 7 strikeouts, 4 walks), like DiPippo in the top of the inning, loaded the bases with another walk after his first strikeout.
But Hensel came through unscathed after Eagle catcher Dan Wagner picked off Torrington’s runner at first for the final out.
Brian Duman’s single in that first inning was Torrington’s only hit.
The Eagles proceeded to grind out 12 hits — at least one by all but two starters — and a steady stream of runs — at least one by seven starters — in all but the fifth inning after Torrington reliever Ben Smith took over the mound.
Two more runs came in the second on three hits, including an RBI single from Jake Santulli (2-for-3) along with a sacrifice fly by Aiden Martinez (2-for-4, double).
It was 4-0 in the third on a scrambling score by Matt Northrup after a one-out walk; 7-0 in the fourth on four more Eagle hits, including a double by Martinez, two-run single by Fuegen and RBI single by Mike Greene.
The final three came in the sixth inning on three more singles, including an RBI by Wagner (2-for-3, double) and a two-run Torrington error.
Meanwhile, Hensel, without his good curveball, kept getting stronger in his turnaround, locating his fastball for the minimum number of Raiders in three of the last five innings.
“That’s baseball,” said Rocca.