TORRINGTON — The Naugatuck Dogs played for the Tri-State League championship for the third time in the last four years and finished as the runner-up for the second time.
The Terryville Black Sox swept the best-of-three World Series by winning Game 2, 5-1, Aug. 23 at Fussenich Park. The Black Sox took Game 1, 4-2, Aug. 20.
“We’ve had a lot of success with a solid core of about ten players who have been here since we started in 2006,” Naugatuck Dogs manager Jay Harlamon said.
Harlamon and assistant coach Ray Gulick have guided the team to three state championships in the Stan Musial Tournament, the last coming in 2017.
Game 2 of the Tri-State League World Series started out as a pitchers’ duel.
Kody Kerski, a former minor league pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, went the distance for the Black Sox, scattering three hits, striking out 15 and walking two.
Lance Stevens, a former Independent League hurler, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning for the Dogs.
Terryville plated a run in the sixth on a walk and a RBI single from Kyle Tehan. The Dogs struck right back in the bottom of the frame when Kyle Murphy belted a two-out double to the base of the fence in center and scored on a RBI single from Devin Murphy.
A leadoff double in the seventh by Justin McCulloch set Terryville up to take over the lead again. The Black Sox worked the bases loaded with no outs. Stevens struck out the next batter and induced a sacrifice fly to George Harlamon in right field that chased home a run to make it 2-1.
With two outs, Tyler Wentz got one just over the head of shortstop Sean Miller-Jones that plated two more runs, and with the way Kerski was pitching that seemed to be enough of a margin for victory.
Harlamon brought on Jeff Rustico in relief after the Black Sox loaded the bases for the second time in the inning. Catcher Chris Cuevas ended the inning by catching a foul pop-up.
Kerski dialed it up after Terryville took a 5-1 advantage, and the Naugy Dogs run at another title came up short.
“Terryville showed up with about 21 players to take batting practice prior to the game,” Harlamon said. “We don’t have that same kind of lineup. We have a solid core that have been backing each other up at the plate, in the field and on the mound for over a decade.”
“We didn’t have a lot of success during the season because of jobs and family commitments kept our entire lineup from taking the field,” Harlamon added. “But coming out of the No. 6 seed, we knew we could give it a run at a title with the talent we had.”