Dramatic win caps ’Rats regular season
When he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday night, he had already proven that with a game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning.
And with the Laconia Muskrats and the Sanford Mainers tied 2-2 in the final frame, Torres proved it again.
With two runners on base and two outs, Torres drove in the winning run for the Muskrats on the second pitch he saw. He barely managed to reach first base before his teammates burst out of the dugout, mobbing him in celebration.
Afterward, Torres couldn’t stop smiling.
“It feels good for me and my teammates to come through,” he said. “I tied to simplify my approach to see the ball and put it in play as hard as I could. It just worked out in my favor.”
It worked out in the Muskrats’ favor, too, as they left Robbie Mills Field with a 3-2 win and sealed the No. 3 seed in the playoffs.
“It was exciting,” Muskrats manager Matt Alison said of the win. “It had a little bit of everything. We had good pitching, good defense and some timely hitting. It was fun to see it come together.”
Laconia starting pitcher Matt Aldrich put together an impressive performance. He threw 5 1-3 innings, allowing just three hits and two runs.
Both runs came in the sixth inning and scored after Aldrich left the game.
“Our starting pitchers have been really good lately,” Torres said. “If we can get starting pitching like that in the playoffs, then we should make a good run at it.”
Alison said that Aldrich has improved late in the season.
“His last three times out he’s been really, really good so that’s been encouraging,” he said. “He’s had nasty stuff all year. That’s why he had so many strikeouts. But early on he had a hard time getting in the zone. Now he’s hitting the zone and he’s really tough to hit.”
Catcher Christopher Harvey got the Muskrats on the board first with a solo home run in the second inning.
The score held until the sixth when Aldrich put runners on first and second with consecutive walks. Rob Blanc relieved Aldrich after the second walk and then gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Nate LaPointe and Gavin Stark.
Torres played hero for the first time in seventh inning, driving in Kyle Convissar with a single.
“Without [Torres], we lost that game 2-1,” Alison said. “He’s scrappy. He takes aggressive swings. When you take aggressive swings and you get pitches to it, then it’s got a chance. ... He was big in a big spot.”
The Mainers left runners on first and third in the top of the ninth inning and Laconia took advantage of the opening.
After Vince Conde struck out, Kyle Convissar reached first with a single. Tim Swatek struck out, but then Harvey walked to put runners on first and second for Torres.
“Clutch hits is what wins games and we were just able to do that tonight,” Torres said. “It’s a great feeling for all of us.”
Torres ended the night 2- for-4 with two RBIs, while Harvey went 2-for-3 with one RBI and a run scored.
“It’s one of those deals where we didn’t have a ton of baserunners, but when we did, we found a way to get some guys in,” Alison said. “We had some big twoout hits. When you do that, you’re going to have a chance.”
The Muskrats’ bullpen didn’t give up a run in relief.
LaPointe and Stark both finished 1-for-3 with one RBI for the Mainers.
Torres said the win will give the Muskrats momentum heading into the playoffs. Laconia will start the postseason on the road against New Bedford on Friday.
“We’ve been playing really well,” he said. I think if we can continue that in the playoffs, we can make a good run at it.”