NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck baseball team put its worst game of the season behind it rather quickly as the Greyhounds rebounded from a shutout loss to Derby and traveled up to Torrington on Monday and handed the Red Raiders their first loss of the season.
Matt Zahornasky scattered 10 hits and struck out five in a complete-game victory as Naugatuck beat previously undefeated Torrington by a 4-3 margin.
Joe Mateo of the Raiders surrendered just four hits but they all came in the fifth inning as the Hounds hung up four runs on the scoreboard.
Two Torrington errors in the inning aided the Naugatuck uprising that was fueled by Brian Pihonak and Nolan Kinne singling to get it going.
Arber Mehmedi slammed a two-run single and Kyle Lopes drilled a hit driving in the final run that proved to be the game-winner.
“Kyle Lopes has taken advantage making the most out of his opportunities and came through with a huge hit for us,” Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said.
Torrington scored in the bottom of the frame to make it a 4-3 game and the Raiders had the tying and winning runs on base in their final at-bats. Zahornasky struck out the last batter for the third out, preserving the Greyhounds’ win.
“Before the game Matt talked to the guys about putting the Derby game behind them,” Deller said. “Arber did a good job calling the game as he and Matt really had it going. Matt gives us an adequate chance to win the game when he is on the hill.”
Naugatuck improved to 8-4 on the season as Torrington fell to 11-1. It was a different story on Saturday when Derby came to the borough.
Derby moved to 9-3 after walking away with a 14-0 win over the Greyhounds on Saturday. Naugatuck pitchers surrendered nine walks, including three with the bases loaded in the first inning, and that set the tone.
Mike Burns came on in relief and actually held Derby in check, allowing one run through four innings. But the Red Raiders were safely out in front, 5-0, by the time Burns took the hill.
“The walks were very uncharacteristic of what our pitching has done this season,” Deller said. “Once they put five on the board it just got away from us. Burns did a great job holding them down before he ran out of gas.”
In the sixth, Burns left the game and Derby hung three more runs on the board. Ryan White came in with runners at first and second and struck out the final two batters to end the uprising.
Two walks and two errors in the seventh handed Derby a five-run going-away gift, accounting for the 14-0 final margin.
“White was pitching for the first time this year and got out of a jam in the sixth,” Deller said. “Then we commit a few errors and by that point the kids were already done.”
Three times in the game the Naugatuck defense made stellar plays to end innings. Adam Neveski speared a line drive in the hole at shortstop in the third and stepped on second for the double play to end a threat.
In the fourth, White hauled in a fly ball to right and fired a strike to the plate as the lead runner tried to tag up and score. Mehmedi quickly gunned it down to Rich Pimental at third for another inning-ending double play.
Pimental grabbed a line shot down the line in the fifth and tagged the runner coming from second for the third inning-ending double play. But none of the defensive gems could jumpstart the ‘Hounds, who were held to just two hits from Pihonak and Zahornasky.
However, the loss to Derby is in the Greyhounds’ rear-view mirror after the important win over Torrington.
“We can beat anyone when we play our ‘A’ game and we proved that on Monday in Torrington,” Deller said.
Naugy was scheduled to host St. Paul on Wednesday and Crosby on Thursday before three road games next week. Both home games were scheduled for 6 p.m.