By GERRY deSIMAS, Jr.
Connecticut Sports Online
TORRINGTON, July 16 -- C.J. Giampaolo's introduction to the NECBL wasn't a pretty one. He had an earned run average over 13.00 after his first two outings.
But the Torrington resident has adapted and turned in one of his most impressive performances of the season Sunday with three shutout innings of relief against Team USA at Fuessenich Park.
Team USA rapped 11 hits in a 7-0 win over the Twisters before 1,330 fans but they only got one off Giampaolo -- a leadoff double by Kevin Howard to begin the sixth inning.
Take away a rough two-inning performance against Newport and Giampaolo has allowed only four hits and no runs in his last three NECBL contests. His ERA is down to 4.85 and he has become a valuable member of the Twister bullpen.
"He's been throwing a slider and changeup and he's doing a good job at keeping them to the outside (portion of the plate)," Twister pitching coach Daryl Morhardt said. "When he throws it to the outside, he gets a better break on his slider."
Team USA catcher Chris Snyder was called out on strikes against Giampaolo in the seventh inning.
"Ten years from now when (C.J.) he sees some of these (Team USA) players in the major leagues, he'll be able to say I pitched against them on Team USA and shut them down for three innings," Twister coach Gregg Hunt said.
Giampaolo, who pitched for Naugatuck Valley Community College this spring, credits a better focus for his improved performance.
"I watched a lot of these kids in the College World Series and wondered if I could pitch against them," Giampaolo said. "My slider was nasty tonight and my defense made some good plays behind me."
Team USA took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Jeff Baker RBI single and exploded for five runs in the fourth inning its largest single inning outburst of the season.
Ryan Hubele (Texas), Sam Fuld (Stanford) and Jeremy Reed (Long Beach St.) each had RBI singles off Twister starter Rob Harrand in the fourth. Baker (Clemson) added an RBI double for a 6-0 lead.
The Twisters managed only three hits off Team USA starter Kiki Bengochea (Miami), who struck out eight. Billy Ryan beat out an infield single in the fifth while Mike McMillian ripped a single up the middle in the sixth. Rob Newton slashed a single to right field in the seventh.
"It's a great opportunity when you get to play against competition of this caliber," said Hunt.
ALL-STAR TWISTERS -- Five Twisters were named to the National Division All-Star team for next Sunday's NECBL All-Star game in Northwest Park in Manchester at 5 p.m.
Shortstop Taber Lee, second baseman Adam Haley, first baseman Nate Gold, designated hitter Robert Newton and pitcher Rory Shortell were named to the National Division squad. Lee, hitting a team-high .319 and 29 hits, earned an All-Star berth for the second year in a row. Gold is hitting .314 with 23 RBI.
Defending NECBL champion Keene had eight players named to the National Division squad while Concord and Torrington had five each. Former Twister Matt Elfeldt, playing with Concord, earned a spot on the National Division team. The Q-Dog closer is 0-1 with a 0.82 ERA, 30 strikeouts and a league-high nine saves.
Lee and Gold were the only Twisters named to the All-National Division team.
NEW PLAYERS -- On the final day to sign players for the 2001 campaign, the Twisters signed three players. Torrington signed Ben Leuthard, an outfielder/pitcher from San Diego State, Anthony Tranchina, a right-handed pitcher from Galvaston (Texas) Community College and
Ryan Rogozinski, an All-American catcher from Naugatuck Valley Community College and Thomaston.
Leuthard, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound outfielder, hit .331 with 12 doubles and 26 RBI for the Aztecs this year but was drafted in the the 48th round by the Houston Astros as a pitcher in last month's Major League Baseball draft. He has been pitching this summer in a San Diego area league and is expected in town early this week.
Tranchina, who is expected in town Monday, is a right-handed pitcher. He was 5-3 with a 2.59 ERA, 46 strikeouts and 21 walks in 48.2 innings.
Rogozinski is already with the team. He hit .537 for Naugatuck Valley this spring and was the Region 21 player of the year. Rogozinski had been playing with Modern Motors in the Waterbury Twi-Met League and the Bethlehem Plowboys in the Tri-State League.
DIAMOND DUST -- Team USA and the Twisters will hold a meet and greet session today at the Yankee Pedlar in Torrington from 1 to 3 p.m. Autographs will be available from the players. Tickets for tonight's game are $2 for bleacher seats and $5 for reserved seats. ... The 21 hits that the Twisters gave up against Keene on Friday was a team-record, breaking the old record of 18 by Central Massachusetts in July 1998.