CANTON, May 19 – Jake Bryant was warmed up and ready to go for Sunday’s season opening Tri-State League game for the Canton Crushers. He played a doubleheader with Hartford Hellcats in the Connecticut Men’s Senior Baseball League earlier in the day.
“Nothing like live pitching to get you ready for the game,” Bryant joked. He went 3-for-3 with three RBI and pitched six strong innings to help the Crushers beat the Winsted Whalers, 10-7 on Sunday at Bowdoin Field.
The Crushers won their season opening contest for the first time in team history and tied a team record with 10 runs in a single game. Canton had 11 hits including a pair of extra-base hits.
A year ago, there were just two games when Canton had more than 10 hits in a single contest and they scored one or less runs in 13 of 18 games.
“We hit the ball which was nice and we really came together,” Canton player/manager Tom Dubois said.
It was a solid all-around game for Canton. Outfielders Chris VandeBogart and Andrew Trembley were able to chase down several hard-hit fly balls. Relief pitcher Taylor Riley picked a runner off second base and three errors by the Crushers didn’t hurt them too bad.
Bryant was hit hard in the first inning as Winsted ripped four hits and raced out to a 3-0 lead thanks to doubles from Andrew Billing and John Lippincott and a two-RBI single from Devin Warren.
But Canton didn’t get rattled. Ben Sullivan led off the game for the Crushers with a booming triple and scored on a RBI single from Bryant. The Crushers cut the lead to 3-2 in the third inning when Sullivan walked, moved to second on a single from Bryant and scored on Sean Bahre’s RBI single.
The Crushers took a 7-3 lead in the fourth inning with five runs on two hits, four walks and one hit batter. VandeBogart had a RBI double to deep center field, Sullivan drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk and Bryant drove in two runs with a single to center field.
On the mound, Bryant settled down and gave up just two hits over the next four innings.
Winsted rallied in the seventh inning, loading the bases thanks to an error and two singles. That brought in Riley in relief. He picked Winsted’s T.J. Kent off second base for the first out of the inning before Billing drove in one run with a double. Rich Langer’s sacrifice fly cut the Canton lead to 7-5.
But the Crushers rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning – loading the bases with a walk, batter hit by a pitch and a single from veteran Jim Spirito. Riley drove in one run and a second run scored on an error. A third run came in on a walk to extend the lead to 10-5.
Winsted closed within three runs with a two-out, two-run triple from John Lippincott but Riley was able to close out the game for the victory.
Bryant scattered nine hits and struck out four in six innings of work. He walked just one. Bryant is just 25 but that is the minimum age to play in the Connecticut Senior Baseball League. Trembley also played a pair of games in the league on Sunday in New Haven with the Collinsville River Rats – the former Canton Devil Rays, who won the 25 Division league title last September.
Riley scattered four hits and struck out two in three innings to earn a save. Riley started the game at second base and on his first ground ball of the game, it bounced off the infield and struck him on his right collarbone. It was hit so hard, it cut the skin and drew blood. Riley had a pair of putouts and an assist in six innings before going to the mound.
Sullivan was 1-for-1 with a triple, one RBI and two runs scored for Canton while VandeBogart had a double.
For Winsted, Andrew Billing was 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and one RBI while Lippincott was 2-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBI. Devin Warren was 3-for-4 with two RBI.
NOTES: Canton is entering their sixth year in the league. They were 0-5 on opening day prior to Sunday. …. The Crushers return to action on Thursday night when they visit Southington (0-1) to take on the 66ers at Recreation Park.
Canton 10, Winsted 7
Winsted (0-1) 300 000 202 — 7-13-1
Canton (1-0) 101 500 30x — 10-11-3
Rob Whyce, Devin Warren (5), Austin Broche (7), Marcus Rich (8) and Chester Warren; Jake Bryant, Taylor Riley (7) and Jeff Mulhall; WP: Bryant (1-0); LP: Whyce (0-1); Save: Riley (1); 2B: Chris VandeBogart (Ca), Andrew Billing (W) 2, John Lippincott (W), 3B: Ben Sullivan (Ca), Lippincott (W)