WATERBURY, Aug. 15, 2022 – The youngsters from the Bethlehem Plowboys refused to break on Monday night in game two of the Tri State League championship series against defending champion Tri-Town.
Tri-Town took a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning when Matt Troy ripped a three-run double to the gap in left/center field. But the Plowboys rallied to tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
In the 10th inning, the Trojans manufactured a run to take the one-run lead but the Plowboys looked like they might extend the game in the bottom of the tenth. Jon Wilson got a leadoff double and moved to third base on an infield ground ball.
Wilson stood 90 feet away from tying the ballgame. But teammate Rick Descoteaux hit a rolling ground ball toward second base. Tri-Town second baseman Matt Troy charged the ball and threw out Wilson at home for the second out of the inning.
Two batters later, Tri-Town’s Connor Gannon coaxed Bethlehem’s Matt Mancini to ground out to second base to end the game and the Trojans celebrated back-to-back league championships after a 4-3 win in 10 innings over Bethlehem Monday night at Municipal Stadium. The Trojans captured the best-of-three series, 2-0.
Tri-Town (23-1) won their third championship since 2018 and their fourth in team history.
“This is our best record ever,” Tri-Town manager Dan McCarthy said. “To come in as a favorite and still do it was special. We had a lot of veterans come in today and they were able to carry the young guys and keep us in the game.”
Tri-Town made things happen in the 10th inning. Leadoff hitter Willie Yahn (2-for-3) singled and promptly stole second base – his second stolen base of the game. Yahn moved to third with teammate Mike Fabiaschi grounded out to second base.
Up came McCarthy, who slapped a two-strike single down the first base line to drive in Yahn and give the Trojans a one-run lead.
“I am not afraid of hitting with two strikes,” McCarthy said. “I was just thinking of putting it in play. A lot of holes were open and I got it lucky to get it past the first baseman.”
Bethlehem, making its first championship series appearance since 2010, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Matt Mancini grounded out to the first baseman and the Plowboys’ Greg Campbell raced home from third base, beating the return throw to the plate.
Tri-Town threatened in the fifth inning, loading the bases with two outs but Plowboy reliever Keegan Daigle was able to get Troy to ground out to end the inning.
The Trojans finally broke through in the top of the seventh inning. Three consecutive two-out walks from Daigle loaded the bases and Troy ripped a double to give the Trojans a 3-1 lead.
Bethlehem (16-8) responded immediately. In the bottom of the seventh, catcher Jesse Swartout led off with a double past a diving Yahn at third base. Jarrett Michaels walked and Ryan Reynolds loaded the bases with a bunt single.
One run came in on a wild pitch and a second run came in on infield ground ball from Wilson, who was 3-for-5 with an RBI, to tie the game at 3-3.
Tri-Town starting pitcher Bobby Chatfield went seven innings, gave up six hits and struck out four. Reliever Connor Gagnon pitched three shutout innings, gave up just one hit and struck out three to earn the win.
Both teams left 13 men on the base in the extra inning affair. Troy finished 2-for-4 with a single, triple and three RBI for Tri-Town. Yahn also had two hits, going 2-for-5 with a pair of singles.
It was the first Tri-State championship series game to into extra innings since Tri-Town beat Naugatuck, 2-1, in 12 innings in game three to win their first league championship. The last team to win consecutive championships was the Litchfield Cowboys in 2011 and 2012. The Torrington Rebels once won four straight league titles from 1992 through 1995.
Tri-Town 4, Bethlehem 3 (10)
Tri-Town (23-1) 000 000 300 1 — 4-9-0
Bethlehem (16-8) 100 000 200 0 — 3-7-2
Bobby Chatfield, Connor Gannon (8) and Tom Troy; Jason Johnson, Keegan Daigle (4), Kyle Banche (10) and Jesse Swartout; WP: Gannon; LP: Daigle; 2B: Jon Wilson (B), Jesse Swartout (B), Matt Troy (TT)
League championship series
Sunday, Aug. 14
Tri-Town 10, Bethlehem 1
Monday, Aug. 15
Tri-Town 4, Bethlehem 3 (10), Tri-Town wins series, 2-0