Maybe it was the 45-minute sun delay, or the evening’s high heat. Either way, the Suns were off of their game Friday night. After stumbling in the first few innings the Suns could not cap off a rally, falling to the Torrington Titans, 8-6.
Things got rough early on for Pittsfield. In the first inning, Suns’ starter Brandon Shiliekis’ wild pitch scooted away from catcher Jake Goodreau. Torrington’s Nick Lamberti scored with one out, giving the Titans the 1-0 advantage.
Like Pittsfield, Torrington's pitching did not come out of the gate strong. Titans’ starter Gus Culpo struggled on the hill during the first frame, walking three Suns and allowing two runs. DH Justin Morhardt made the most of his first appearance with Pittsfield, slapping a two-RBI single past diving third baseman Cooper Mrowka. Morhardt totaled three RBIs on three hits in an impressive debut with the Suns.
The Titans continued to beat up on Shileikis. Torrington added two runs in the second inning on a Hunter Tralli RBI single and an error made by Pittsfield first baseman Eric Hamilton. In the third inning the Titans continued to score, breaking the game wide open. After Mikey Arman scored on a fielder’s choice, Mrowka cranked an RBI double to deep right field. Brian Ginsberg and Tralli followed up Mrowka with consecutive run-scoring singles, giving the visitors a 7-2 lead. Suns’ manager Tom Conley removed Shileikis (0-2, 7.20 ERA) from the mound after only 2.1 innings. The right-hander from Quinnipiac University yielded 10 hits and was tagged for seven runs.
In the fifth inning, the Suns began to mount a comeback. Down 8-2, Morhardt ripped an RBI single to right-centerfield. Replacing Goodreau at cathcer, Chris Cimmino followed suit, singling in centerfielder Al Zachary. The Suns would then cut their deficit down to two runs when Eric Hamilton lined a two-RBI double into centerfield. Two Titans outfielders collided diving for Hamilton’s hit. Centerfielder K.J. Brady was injured on the play, and Mike Foley replaced the University of Washington rising junior.
Bats were quiet for the remainder of the game. Suns’ reliever Ryan Simpler posted a respectable outing, pitching 4.2 innings of one-hit, one-run ball. Simpler struck out three Titans and walked one.
Torrington’s Malachi Emond was particularly impressive on Friday night. Emond twirled three perfect innings, earning his first win of the season. In the game’s final at-bat, he got Suns’ left fielder Colin Gimblet to swing at strike three, firing his fifth punch-out and clinching the 8-6 victory for Torrington.
With their third straight loss, the Suns slide to 6-8. The Titans are not far behind in the West Division, improving their record to 6-9 after Friday’s win. Tomorrow, the Suns will face off against the Wachussett Dirt Dawgs (7-8) at 5:00 PM. at Wahconah Park. Pittsfield will look to snap their losing skid and improve their positioning in the West.