TRI-STATE: Naugy Dogs beat Bethlehem Plowboys, clinch berth in championship series

The Naugatuck Dogs clinched their spot in the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League
World Series with a 6-2 win over the Bethlehem Plowboys on Thursday night.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

The Naugatuck Dogs had the leadoff man on base in each of the first two innings against Tyler Erickson and the Bethlehem Plowboys in Thursday night’s Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League semifinal game.
Both times, Bethlehem used a double play to escape danger. The Plowboys weren’t so lucky in the third inning.
The Dogs scored four times in the bottom of the third and rode the momentum to a 6-2 victory and a berth in the Tri-State World Series. Naugatuck will play the Tri-Town Trojans in a best-of-three beginning next Tuesday at Torrington’s Fuessenich Park. Wednesday’s game is at Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium, with Thursday’s contest (if necessary) back at Fuessenich. All games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Thursday’s game, which was also played at Fuessenich, threatened to be a Naugatuck runaway early. Sean Miller-Jones, Ryan Plourde and Kyle Murphy all reached to start the game. With the bases loaded and no outs, Erickson escaped with a strikeout and a double play.
In the second inning, Mack Cianciolo got on leading off but was erased on a double play. Ryan Russell reached with two outs, but a fly out ended the inning.

Naugatuck’s Sean Miller-Jones was a thorn in Bethlehem’s side on Thursday night.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

In the third, Miller-Jones again reached base leading off. This time, Miller-Jones came around to score. Kyle Murphy, Brendan Slattery and Cianciolo also touched home as the Dogs tallied four runs. 
Miller-Jones had three singles and scored twice to lead the Naugatuck attack. Plourde added two singles and a run scored. Kyle Murphy reached three times (two singles, hit by pitch) and scored a run. Slattery doubled, singled and scored a run. Cianciolo had a single, walk and run scored.
On the mound, Kevin Murray worked his way through eight innings of two-run ball for the win. Cianciolo fired a 1-2-3 ninth to end the game.
For Bethlehem, Kevin McDonnell had a two-run home run off the property fence beyond the left field wall in the top of the seventh inning. McDonnell’s dinger drove in Joe Fainer, who walked with one out. Fainer (single) reached twice, as did Nick Chiovitti (walk, single). Tyler Erickson took the loss on the mound.
For the Plowboys, there were what-ifs early and a controversial call late. Bethlehem had the leadoff man on in the first two innings, but couldn’t score. A line-drive double play — third baseman Kyle Murphy to first baseman Devin Murphy — snuffed out the second inning chance.
In the eighth, Chiovitti had a one-out single. Matt Mancini followed with a single to right field, and Chiovitti attempted to go from first to third. Jeff Sturm came up firing, and Chiovitti was called out after a delay on a bang-bang play. Bethlehem players, coaches and fans were incensed about the call, which they felt killed their building momentum. Naugatuck was happy to get the out. A fly out ended the eighth, then a 1-2-3 ninth from Cianciolo put the Dogs in the World Series.

PHOTOS: A whole bunch of local high school alumni played in Thursday night’s game. Click here to see photos of them. Here’s the list of local alumni who played in Thursday’s game:

NAUGATUCK — Plourde, Kyle Murphy, Devin Murphy and Ryan Russell (Holy Cross)
BETHLEHEM — Chiovitti and Erickson (Holy Cross); Mancini (Sacred Heart); McDonnell (Bristol — Avon Old Farms), Tony Geraci (Wilby)