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Fabiaschi helps Tri-Town capture third straight Tri-State title

Members of the Tri-State League’s celebrate after winning the Tri-State League title Sunday in Waterbury. More Tri-State photos

WATERBURY, August 13, 2023 — Torrington’s Mike Fabiaschi had left the game of baseball.

The All-State baseball and basketball star at Torrington High played collegiate baseball at James Madison (2007-10) and got drafted and playing four seasons in the Oakland A’s minor league system before retiring in 2013 after 134 games as a professional.

But when his friend, Joe Bunnell, died in March 2020 in a farming accident, it awakened a need to play the game once again. Bunnell, a Litchfield High graduate, played with the Tri-Town Trojans in the Tri-State League.

“I had stopped playing for a few years,” Fabiaschi said. “The very tragic passing of my buddy, Joe, kinda brought me back. I didn’t know if I would ever play again at that point.”

Fabiaschi rejoined the Trojans in 2021 and has helped them win a lot of ballgames. Fabiaschi went 4-for-4 with a double and one RBI as Tri-Town became just the second team since 1968 to win a third straight Tri-State League championship on Sunday at Municipal Stadium.

The Trojans (24-3) got 11 hits and shutout Bethlehem, 9-0 to win the league’s best-of-three championship series, 2-1. The Plowboys forced a decisive game three on Saturday with a 5-4 victory – just the third loss of the season for Tri-Town, which has won 67 of 75 Tri-State League contests in the past three years.

Fabiaschi hit .666 in the three-game finals series, going 8-for-12 at the plate with a triple, two doubles and two RBI.

Bethlehem’s Ricky Descouteaux waits for the ball as Tri-Town’s  Tom Troy slides safely s into second base in Sunday’s Tri-State League final in Waterbury. More Tri-State photos

Tri-Town also got an exceptional pitching performance from Connor Gavin, the team’s normal closer. Gavin, a starting pitcher on the Western Connecticut State University squad, went eight innings and gave up just three hits. He fanned four and didn’t allow a walk.

“He kept them off balance,” Tri-Town skipper Danny McCarty said. “He knew to stick with his fastball and let them hit it and (let us) make plays. We were going to make plays. We’re the best defensive team in the league.”

Tri-Town didn’t commit an error in the three-game championship series.

The Trojans won game three in the finals to win the championship for the fourth time since 2013. They beat the Terryville Black Sox twice in three games to win titles in 2021 and 2018 and beat the Naugatuck Dogs in 12 innings in game three to win a championship in 2013.

“Just playing Trojan baseball,” McCarty said. ”I turn a lot of kids away because I don’t think they’ll fit the mold of our team. It’s a group of guys here for a reason. That’s defense, pitching and running.”

Tri-Town took an early lead when Casey McDonald reached on an error, moved to second bases on a wild pitch and took third on an error. McDonald scored on successful sacrifice fly from Matt Troy for a 1-0 lead,

Tri-Town added three runs in the fourth inning thanks to two Plowboys errors for a commanding 5-0 lead. Fabiaschi led off the inning with a double, moved to third base on a successful sacrifice fly from Colby Bunnell and scored on Austin Patenaude’s RBI single. Patenaude scored on Evan Scribner’s double. Scribner moved to third on a single from Joel Grantmayer and scored on a wild pitch for a 4-0 lead.

The Trojans added two more runs in the sixth on a single from Grantmayer and a sacrifice fly from Matt Troy. In the seventh, Tri-Town added three more runs thanks to a RBI single from Fabiaschi, a sacrifice fly from Colby Bunnell and a RBI double from Pautenaude for a 9-0 lead.

It’s the largest margin of victory in game 3 of the finals since an 11-run victory by Bethlehem over Thomaston in 1999. The last team to win three straight league championships was the Torrington Rebels, who won four in a row from 1992-95.

“Back-to-back (championship) is a feat,” McCarty said. “This one is sweet because it’s just hard to beat them. Everyone played a role.”

The Tri-Town Trojans celebrate a fifth Tri-State League championship. More Tri-State photos

After the trophy celebration and team photo on the pitcher’s mound, Fabiaschi and his five-year-old son were taking a special victory lap running around the bases.

“I’m just having a lot of fun being out there playing and not taking it too seriously,” Fabiaschi said. “I am enjoying the game like a little kid again.”

In the finals for the second straight season, the Plowboys (21-6) were trying to win their first title since 2010. Center fielder Jon Wilson had two singles for Bethlehem.

Tri-Town 9, Bethlehem 0
At Waterbury
Bethlehem (21-6)        000  000  000  — 0-5-3
Tri-Town (24-3)           001  302  30x  — 9-11-0
George Bilenza, Ty Boisvert (4), Matt Sibilia (7) and Chase Belile; Connor Gannon, David Donahue (9) and Joel Grantmeyer; WP: Gannon; LP: Bilenza; 2B: Mike Fabiaschia (TT), Austin Patenaude (TT), Evan Scribner (TT), Chase Belile (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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