By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Sports Online
MIDDLETOWN, June 26, 2003 -- The long and entertaining rivalry between the Twisters and the Middletown Giants could be entering its final phase.
Ever since Torrington and the Giants squared off in a memorable NECBL championship series in 1997 that featured a 14-inning marathon in game 1 and a bench-clearing brawl after the completion of game 3, it has been a spirited affair.
But the Giants could be on the move after the season. Owner and general manager Ron Lucia confirmed that he is looking at possible new sites for the team, including Hampton Beach, N.H. and Springfield, Mass.
The Twisters took any potential drama out of Thursday night's game early with four runs in the second inning as they won their third straight with a 6-1 victory before a sparse Palmer Field crowd of about 250 fans on a hot, muggy evening.
Pitcher Dennis Robinson (3-0) teased the Giants for six innings. He allowed five hits but snuffed out potential rallies in five of six innings thanks to some smart pitching and help from his defense. He struck out four and walked none.
"Dennis knows how to pitch," Twister coach Gregg Hunt said. "He didn't have his best stuff but he gave us six solid innings."
Robinson pitched in the heat this spring for the University of Jacksonville. "I just battled," he said. "It was a hot day and I threw a lot of pitches. I just tried to get ahead in the count and the guys in the field made a lot of good plays tonight."
Torrington (7-4) made only one error as they won for the fourth time in the last five games.
"We're really cutting down on the strikeouts and are putting a lot more pressure on the defense just by putting the ball into play," Hunt said. Torrington struck out only five times last night.
In the second inning, Chris Kelly got on thanks to an error and Emory Davies walked. Jeff Natale followed with an RBI double for a 1-0 lead and Davies scored on a RBI groundout by Roberts. Lance Salsgiver walked before Zak Farcas ripped a two-RBI triple to the gap between center and right field for a 4-0 lead.
Middletown (6-8) scored a run in the third inning but the Twisters iced the game with two more runs in the seventh on a RBI single by Armand Gaerlan and another Giants error. Middletown had won two of its last three
Jason Bolinski, Peter Maki and Ben Rowe each threw an inning of scoreless relief to close out the contest. For Maki and Rowe, it was their first appearances of the season.
The Twisters could be playing for first place in the
NECBL's Southern Division when they host Manchester
tonight at 7 p.m. at Fuessenich Park.
The Giants will play a home game in Hampton Beach on July 5 against Concord to sample the support in the Hampton area. Lucia has also spoken with city officials in Springfield.
Limited support at the gate along with no rights to run a concession or sell outfield fence ads in Middletown limit the Giants' ability to earn money, Lucia said. The Giants averaged only 360 fans a game in 2002, an improvement from 2001 when they drew only 1,825 for the season for an average of 107 fans in 17 outings at Palmer Field. The Giants have drawn 319 fans in five games this year.
"When you don't have the revenue streams, it is tough," said Lucia, who estimated that his team may lose $10,000 or $12,000 this year. He said the Giants lost around $20,000 in 2002.
DIAMOND DUST: Farkas hit the Twisters' first triple of the season with a looping shot between the center and right fielder in the second inning. Litchfield's Chris Bozek plays for the Giants as a relief pitcher. Bozek, who completed his freshman year at Vermont in May, is 0-0 with a 1.29 ERA in 5 appearances. ... Oregon State pitcher Ben Rowe joined the Twisters yesterday and made his debut in the ninth inning. Infielder
Larry Best-Berfet of Jacksonville is scheduled to join the team this week. ... Middletown pitcher
Fukazawa Kashuo, who pitched an inning of relief for the Giants, is from Yamaguichi, Japan. The Twisters swept all three games from the Giants a year ago. ... The overall series between the two teams is tied 21-21 but Middletown leads 12-7 at Palmer Field. The Twisters have won four in a row against the Giants for the second time and first time since 2000-01.