TERRYVILLE – Developing more pitching arms will be the name of the game for Terryville baseball this spring.
In its loss to Housatonic Regional on Thursday, the Kangaroos needed five pitchers to finish the game after starter Jake Rinkavage was removed in the fourth inning, leading to a ton of runs against in the process. Rinkavage did his job as the lefty shut down Housatonic’s offense, surrendering just one run without allowing a hit, while striking out eight batters and walking five.
“That’s going to be our Achilles heel, is finding consistent guys that can come in in relief, with the schedule being the way that it is, who can throw strikes on a consistent basis,” Terryville coach Patrick Norton said. “With pitching restrictions and multiple games, it’s tough.”
Following Thursday’s game, the Kangaroos have five games in seven days, including three in a row from Thursday to Saturday.
“It’s a really, really tough stretch for us,” Norton said. “Then it’s just finding arms to fill those spots.”
With the exception of senior Sean O’Donnell, Terryville had to use inexperienced pitchers to try to finish up the game with sophomores Brayden Evans and Tyler Grabowski, junior Jared Rheault and senior Jacques Caron.
O’Donnell and Caron were the only two pitchers to record more than an out while also only allowing one run each. Evans, Grabowski and Rheault gave up a 12 runs combined.
“We were able to find one or two guys that can kind of come in and throw some strikes,” Norton said. “Asking a lot out of guys that don’t have any pitching experience to step up to the plate and be ready to go.”
Rinkavage and O’Donnell are No. 1 and 2 in the Kangaroos’ pitching rotation.
Terryville is looking to develop its younger guys as quickly as it can since most of the roster has no varsity experience. O’Donnell is the only returning Kangaroo with any varsity playing time.
“So we got hit really bad with graduating seniors two years ago,” Norton said. “Not playing at all last year hurt, not having any summer ball for some of these guys hurt. We graduated, I think, seven seniors off of that team, so we only return one guy, [O’Donnell], who has any varsity experience.
“We’re definitely asking a lot for some youth,” Norton said. “We’ve got a good core of freshmen and sophomores out there.”
In 2019, Terryville finished 9-11 but made a bit of a run in the Class S state tournament as the No. 24 seed. The Kangaroos beat No. 9 Griswold and No. 8 Windsor Locks, before falling to top-seed Holy Cross 6-5 in eight innings in the quarterfinal round.
With much of that group now gone, the Kangaroos will be focused on rebuilding this season, with getting more pitching support at the top of the priorities list.
“It’s going to take time, it’s going to take just being in the moment more, playing games more, just continue to practice, continue to get reps, continue to get better every day,” Norton said. “That’s kind of our message, as cliche as it is, is just to get better each and every day.”
Terryville has already improved in the batter’s box though, as it scored eight runs on 11 hits against Housatonic, including three extra-base hits on hard-hit balls. In its first two games, the Kangaroos compiled just two hits and didn’t score any runs.
“Up until this point we really have [improved], we really have,” Norton said. “From where we started our first practice to now, we have gotten better, we have made strides and just keep getting better.”
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.