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Two home runs lift Blasius Chevrolet past Crushers in opener, 2-1

CANTON, May 22, 2022 – Connor Groggin and Fraz Kader each hit solo home runs to lead Blasius Chevrolet-Waterbury to a 2-1 victory over the Canton Crushers in the season opening Tri-State League contest for both teams Sunday at Bowdoin Field.

Blasius pitchers Brooks Belter and Dan Hedeen combined to fan 19 batters but three Canton pitchers kept the Crushers in the game, scattering eight hits. Belter struck out 12 batters in the first six innings.

Blasius took a 1-0 lead in seventh inning with Groggin’s two-out home run that hit the top of the fence near Symonds Avenue and bounced over near the 370-foot sign in center field.  The visitors extended the lead to 2-0 in the eighth inning on a solo home run from Kader.

Canton cut the lead to one run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Nick Michanczyk singled and scored on an RBI double from shortstop Mike Scott.

Jim Spirito and Jake Bryant also had singles for the Crushers (0-1), who return to action on Thursday night with a game at Wolcott.

Two teams leave Tri-State League

The Tri-State League has 13 teams this season but there will be two new franchises in the league and two teams leaving the league.

The Brass City Vipers from Waterbury will join the league, becoming the second team from the Brass City in the loop along with Blasius Chevrolet. The Naugatuck Nightmare is also joining the league. The last team from Naugatuck in the league was the Dogs, who last played in 2019. The Dogs won three Stan Musial state championships (2015, 2012, 2011) and played in three Tri-State League finals, losing in 2019, 2016 and 2013,

Leaving the league will be the Torrington Rebels and the Terryville Black Sox. The Rebels were the first Torrington team to join the league in 1991. The historic franchise, begun by Torrington pitching legend Scott Arigoni, won eight Tri-State League championships and went to the finals nine times. From 1992 through 1997, the Rebels won the league title five times in six years with four straight championships from 1992-95.

The Tri-State League Hall of Fame has plenty if Hall of Fame players from the Rebels including Arigoni, Chris Clark, Darrin Gould, Dave Boucino, Rich Thomson, Rich Scott and Bill Quarteiro. The Rebels’ most recent championship came in 2007.

The Black Sox left the Tri-State League to go play in the Connecticut Twilight League, where they played in 2020 when the Tri-State League took a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Black Sox lost in the Twilight League finals.

Terryville had plenty of success in the Tri-State League, going to the finals four times and winning it all in 2019. The Black Sox lost in the Tri-State League finals a year ago to Tri-Town Trojans, 2-1.

In the last three Stan Musial Connecticut state tournaments (2021, 2019, 2018), Terryville finished with a share of the title. The Black Sox finished second in the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC) Northeast Regional World Series in 2018. Terryville was third in 2021 and 2019.

Blasius Chevrolet 2, Canton 1
At Canton
Blasius Chevrolet (1-0)        000  000  110  — 2-8-1
Canton (0-1)                          000  000  010  — 1-4-1
Brooks Belter, Dan Hedeen (6) and Paul Novakowski; James Michanczyk, Matt Rose (4), Steven Muller (7) and Mike Sullivan; WP: Belter (1-0); LP: Muller (0-1); Save: Hedeen (1); 2B: Sal Trichilo (B), Mike Scott (C); HR: Fraz Kader (B), Connor Groggin (B)

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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