CANTON, May 25, 2023 – The early returns weren’t good for the Canton Crushers baseball team in Thursday’s Tri-State League home opener against the Naugatuck Nightmare at Bowdoin Field.
When the Crushers came to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning, they trailed by eight runs, had given up eight hits and committed four errors.
But Canton rapped out six hits in the next three innings and scored eight runs in the sixth inning to beat the Nightmare, 10-8 with the biggest comeback win in team history.
Ben Sullivan had a two-run double in the sixth inning with Jack Rose ripping a two-run single in the sixth. Heath Cotton also had an RBI single for the Crushers, who sent 11 men to the plate in the sixth and turned an 8-2 deficit into a 10-8 lead.
Reliever Tom Spirito gave up a single and a walk but retired the Nightmare in the seventh to preserve the win and earn a save.
“You can just never give up,” said Sullivan, the starting shortstop for the Crushers. “You just don’t know what will happen. Some bats got hot and we turned it on in the field.”
Canton (1-1) got two solid innings of relief pitching from newcomer Ethan Puhala, who didn’t give up a hit and struck out three to set the table for Spirito.
Naugatuck cruised through the first four innings of the game. The Nightmare had a 3-0 lead after two innings thanks to three Crusher errors and some timely hitting. Christian Cuevas had a two-run double in the first inning.
Naugatuck scored five times in the fourth inning with four hits, including doubles from Lewis Maysonet and Sam Beadle and a two-run single from Richie Aviles.
On the mound, the 6-foot-4 Beadle, a former Canton High pitcher, did well. In five innings of work, Beadle allowed just two hits and struck out six. He left the game with an 8-2 lead.
Trailing 8-0, Canton got on the scoreboard in the fourth when Jake Bryant walked and scored after moving to second on a wild pitch and two Naugatuck errors. In the fifth, Michael Sullivan had a deep, two-out double to center field and moved to third on a balk on Beadle. He scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 8-2.
The Crushers scored eight times in the sixth to take the lead, 10-8. Bryant hit the left field fence for a long single when the ball didn’t bounce over the fence but instead, it bounced back into play. Jack Rose had a two-run single to cut the Naugatuck lead to 8-4 followed by Cotton with a RBI single to trim the lead to three runs.
Naugatuck reliever Angel Valentin got two outs but a walk to Nick Michanczyk loaded the bases and a walk to Michael Sullivan drove in another run, cutting the lead to two, 8-6.
Ben Sullivan ripped a deep double to centerfield that drove in two runs with a third run scoring on an overthrow to put Canton in front for the first time, 9-8. Sullivan moved to third on the overthrow and scored on a wild pitch to give the Crushers a 10-8 advantage.
“It was good to get some magic (going),” said veteran Crusher outfielder/pitcher Jim Spirito said. “Got some camaraderie going. Get some magic to happen and carry it into the next game.”
Ben Sullivan finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI while Jack Rose had a single and two RBI for the Crushers.
Prior to this game, the biggest deficit the Crushers had overcome in a single game was five runs in a 21-13 win over this same Naugatuck team last July and in a 15-9 win over the Torrington Twisters in June 2021.
Next, Canton will play the first of four games this season with their local rivals, the Burlington Hunters, on Thursday, June 1 at Bowdoin Field beginning at 5:45 p.m.
Canton 10, Naugatuck 8
Naugatuck 210 500 0 — 8-9-4
Canton (1-1) 000 118 x — 10-7-3
Sam Beadle, Matt Veneable (6), Angel Valentin (6) and Lewis Maysonet; Cam Gaudet, Ethan Puhala (5), Tom Spirito (7) and Jeff Mulhall; WP: Puhala (1-0); LP: Valentin; Save – Tom Spirito (1); 2B: Ben Sullivan (C) 2, Mike Sullivan (C), Christian Cuevas (N), Lewis Maysonet (N), Sam Beadle (N)