The Silver Knights huddle up before the start of Saturday's opening day at Holman Stadium in Nashua.
Silver Knights win FCBL title
TORRINGTON, Conn. – They led the Futures Collegiate League in attendance. They had the fledgling league’s best facility, and without a doubt the best promotional schedule.
And in the end, the Nashua Silver Knights franchise had the best players, capturing the inaugural FCBL Championship Cup with an 8-3 win over the Torrington Titans on Friday night to complete a two-game sweep.
“A championship,” Silver Knights third baseman James Katsirouibas said,”always feels good.”
Meanwhile, the Titans helped disappoint their crowd of 570 Fuessenich Park with their pitching issuing 14 walks and committing fIve errors (eight for the series). Torrington tossed one of its best, Tyler Ericksson on three days rest in an attempt to survive. With Geoff Fisher’s back ailing, Nashua started Lamarre Rey, but the real pitching star was lefty reliever Matt Olsen, who picked up the win with five innings of scoreless relief.
“I just told Olsen to throw strikes,” Silver Knights manager Mike Chambers said. “Just pound the zone, let them hit it. We just put together good at bats and were able to pull away. I have to give Ericksson credit, to go out there three days after throwing 100 pitches, he’s a gamer.”
But Nashua had enough gamers to surpass a Torrington team, which lost several key players to injuries and other issues over the last few weeks.
“We had a lot of guys playing out of position,” manager Gregg Hunt said. “The team showed a lot of character.”
Nashua, which outhit Torrington 8-7, grabbed a 1-0 off Ericksson right away in the top of the first on a walk, errant pickoff throw and Logan Gillis RBI single past a drawn in infield.
But Rey hung an 0-1 offering to the Titans Andrew Spleth in the bottom of the first with a man on and Torrington grabbed a 2-1 lead.
However, despite the fact Rey (three-plus innings with three hits, four walks, two runs) didn’t have much, the Silver Knights hung in. Defensively, they turned three double plays and they ended up tying the game on Kyle Neverman’s RBI single after two walks and the Titans’ sixth error of the series loaded the bases. However, Katsirboubas was cut down at the plate on a superb throw from Torrington left fielder Matt O’Neill.
Still, Nashua manages to get that 3-2 lead the following inning when Ericksson gave up back to back singles to Gillis and Matt Jacobs and eventually Gillis scored on a Katsiroubas sacrifice fly to right.
In that theme, Mark Sanborn’s sac fly after Titans reliever Tyler Wilson walked the bases loaded in the sixth gave the Silver Knights a 4-2 cushion.
“We came out, started a little flat, but we knew we were going to get to that kid,” Katsiroubas said of Ericksson, who took the loss.
That lead grew to 6-2 thanks to more Wilson wildness (and another Titan errant throw on an RBI single by Rob Benedict that allowed a second runner to cross the plate.
Sanborn took reliever Kyle Bartlett deep over the left center field fence, some 355 feet, his second homer in two nights.
Nashua pushed across a final run thanks to a walk and an error in the ninth.
Meanwhile, Olsen was outstanding, allowing just two hits, walking only one while fanning two.
“The umpire had a consistent strike zone but it was tight,” he said. “So I knew I had to just get it in there, and I’ve got a great defense behind me.”
Silver Knights reliever Dylan Maki gave up a solo shot to Ryan Plourde in the ninth, but it mattered little. The first FCBL year ends with a Nashua championship.
“We’re competitors,” Gillis said. “We really wanted to win.”