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Late home run lifts Torrington past Crushers in Tri-State League action

Naugatuck’s Jeff Rustico slides into third base before Canton third baseman Jeff Mulhall can apply a tag in Sunday’s Tri-State League game in Canton. The visiting Dogs won, 6-0.

CANTON, July 15 – Runs have been difficult to come by for the Canton Crushers baseball team. The Crushers have scored just two runs in the last seven games – making it a challenge to be competitive.

But Canton hasn’t been blown out in the last seven contests. The Crushers gave up just four hits in a 6-0 Tri-State League loss to Naugatuck Sunday afternoon at Mills Pond Recreation Center.

Minutes after that game was completed, Canton traveled to Bowdoin Field to take on the Torrington Rebels in a contest originally scheduled to be played Sunday. The Naugatuck game was rained out earlier this month. It was just seven innings because that was the length of the original contest.

The visiting Rebels had just five hits but one was damaging. Roberto Santiago’s two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning lifted Torrington to a 2-1 victory over the Crushers, who have dropped their last 12 games.

The Torrington game was a hard loss to swallow. Canton pitcher Taylor Riley was splendid through eight innings, striking out seven and allowing just three hits. The Rebels had runners on first and third base with two outs in the fifth inning but Riley got out of the jam by coaxing Torrington’s Ian Pearce to pop to shortstop Heath Cotton to end the threat.

Riley, who played second base in the opening game against Naugatuck on a hot, humid afternoon, ran of gas in the ninth.

Canton shortstop Heath Cotton fires a ball to first base in Sunday’s game against Naugatuck at Mills Pond.

Torrington’s Greg Bodnar singled to lead off the ninth inning before Santiago (2-for-4, 2 RBI) blasted a home run into the branches of the tree in left field for the go-ahead runs.

In the bottom of the ninth, Pearce put down the side in order to secure the victory. Pearce gave up four hits and struck out eight. The Rebels improve to 3-12 on the season.

Canton (1-15) took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. Chris VandeBogart had a two-out double and scored when Andrew Trembley doubled. Jake Bryant and Jeff Mulhall also had singles for Canton.

The Crushers played the first game of their Sunday doubleheader at Mills Pond Recreation Park because Bowdoin Field was being used by the Canton Devil Rays, an over-25 baseball team that plays in the Connecticut North Men’s Senior Baseball League. The Devil Rays (10-6) had a doubleheader against the Southington Navigators. Southington won the opener, 9-7 while the Devil Rays won the second game, 6-1.

Canton third baseman Jeff Mulhall lays down a sacrifice bunt in Sunday’s game against Naugatuck.

Naugatuck (10-4) took an early 3-0 lead thanks to an error that allowed three unearned runs. The visiting Dogs had just four hits with Ryan Plourde and Jeff Rustico with two singles each. Plourde and Kyle Murphy each scored two runs.

Canton’s best chance to score came in the third inning when VandeBogart and Cotton each walked and moved to second and third base after a successful sacrifice bunt from Jeff Mulhall. But Naugatuck pitcher Tyler Boisvert struck out the next two Crusher hitters to end the threat. Boisvert allowed just three hits and struck out eight.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, first baseman Sean Bahre doubled and moved to third on an infield ground ball. Cotton walked but the game ended when Mulhall grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The third and final hit in the game for Canton came from Riley, who had a two-out double to deep center field in the third inning.

The Crushers host their final home game of the 2018 campaign on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Bowdoin Field when they host the Bethlehem Plowboys (8-7). The final game of the year is Sunday against Blasius Chevrolet (11-4) at 10 a.m. in Waterbury at Hotchkiss Field.

Canton first baseman Sean Bahre came off the bag three times in the first three innings due to errant throws but was still able to catch the ball and tag the Naugatuck runners as they went by to get the outs.

Naugatuck 6, Canton 0
At Canton
Naugatuck (10-4)                 300  001  2 – 6-4-0
Canton (1-14)                        000  000  0 – 0-3-2
Tyler Boisvert and Christian Cuevas; Nick Arconti and Jake Bryant; WP: Boisvert; LP: Arconti (0-2); 2B: Taylor Riley (Ca), Sean Bahre (Ca)

Torrington 2, Canton 1
At Canton
Torrington (3-12)                 000  000  002 – 2-5-0
Canton (1-15)                        000  010  000 – 1-4-2
Ian Pearce and Dev Marcella; Taylor Riley, Jake Bryant (9) and Jeff Mulhall; WP: Pearce; LP: Riley (0-4); 2B: Chris VandeBogart (Ca), Andrew Tremley (Ca), Jake Narueson (T); HR: Roberto Santiago (T)


Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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