Gavin Lavallee and Nick Delotto each hit solo home runs while relief pitcher Kodi Kerski got a strikeout with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Terryville Black Sox to a 4-2 win over the Naugatuck Dogs in game one of the Tri-State League championship series Tuesday night at Fuessenich Park in Torrington.
The Black Sox (25-6) can capture their first-ever Tri-State League championship on Wednesday night with a win over Naugatuck. Game two of the best-of-3 championship series begins at 7 p.m. at Fuessenich Park. Game three, if necessary, will be Thursday night in Torrington.
Naugatuck (15-8) had plenty of chances but they couldn’t get the timely hit. The Dogs stranded 11 runners on base including seven runners in the last three innings. Trailing by two runs, Naugatuck loaded the bases with three walks from relief pitcher Mike Krieger.
But with two outs, Kodi Kerski was able to get the save when Naugatuck’s Devin Murphy struck out. Murphy fouled the ball into the glove of Terryville catcher Tyler Wenz to secure the victory.
Terryville took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Delotto home run to center field. The Black Sox extended the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With one out, Lavallee reached on a single and moved to second base on Justin McCullough’s single. Lavallee scored on a RBI single from Charlie Callahan. After Delotto walked to load the bases, Kyle Skidmore singled to left field to extend the lead to three runs.
Naugatuck, which had won seven games in a row including all six of their postseason contests, got back into the game in the seventh inning thanks to a pair of walks and an error that loaded the bases for the Dogs. Sean Miller Jones’ two-run single to right field cut the lead to 3-2.
Terryville picked up some insurance with a solo home run from Lavallee in the seventh inning for a 4-2 advantage.
Terryville hurler Ken Kerski got the win for the Black Sox, pitching 6.1 innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. For Naugatuck, starting pitcher Kevin Murray pitched six innings, allowed six hits and struck out five. He walked four.
Terryville is playing in the finals for the second straight year. The Black Sox, who won the regular season title for the second consecutive season, lost in last year’s championship series to Tri-Town in game three, 4-2.
Naugatuck is playing in their fourth championship final since 2013. The Dogs won the Tri-State championship in 2017 and finished second in 2013 and 2016.
NOTES: There was another Terryville team in the Tri-State League from 1995 through 2003. That team won Tri-State League titles in 1996 and in 2000. The Black Sox joined the league in 2007.
Terryville 4, Naugatuck 2
Naugatuck (15-8) 000 000 200 — 2-4-0
Terryville (25-6) 010 002 10x — 4-7-2
Kevin Murray, Adam Naveski (7) and Matt Lehane; Ken Kerski, Jared Gallagher (7), Mike Krieger (9), Kodi Kerski (9) and Tyler Wenz; WP: Ken Kerski; LP: Murray; Save: Kodi Kerski; 2B: Kyle Skidmore (T); HR: Gavin Lavallee (T), Nick Delotto (T)