Red Knights clip Hawks behind Owens’ 4-hit shutout

CAMBRIDGE – This definitely wasn’t the same Toronto baseball team from a few weeks ago.

Same uniforms, pretty much the same players, but it was obvious a new attitude has permeated throughout the dugout.

“We took practice more seriously,” said Toronto’s Tyler Owens. “We didn’t joke around as much and we actually got down through the ball (at the plate). Coach Perk (head coach Brian Perkins) told us everything we were doing wrong and we fixed all of it.

“We look really good right now.”

The team that struggled two short weeks ago, did none of that in Monday’s 2-0 win over Hiland in a Division III district semifinal game.

The Red Knights are back on the same diamond at 5 p.m. Friday against the winner of today’s other the district semifinal game between Steubenville Catholic Central and Tusky Central Catholic.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” said Owens, the winning pitcher.

“We started the season really hot, cooled off there and now our kids really came together,” said Perkins. “We showed up today really focused. We were excited about playing and it showed up on the field.”

The Red Knights, who were into this game from the first pitch, controlled play in this 80-minute ball game. Owens did most of that from the bump.

“I felt really good, my arm doesn’t even hurt – I think I could go a few more,” he said with a laugh.

Owens allowed four harmless singles, the first coming in the fourth inning. He was in command most of the game of his three pitches as he kept the Hawks off balance at the dish.

“Our goal was to get guys on because we feel that all pitchers aren’t as good from the stretch,” said Hiland head coach Tom Gibson. “If you get somebody on, you can make things happen. We just couldn’t make things happen. We had guys in scoring position a couple times and didn’t get the hit.

“Combine that with unearned runs and it’s a bad deal. This is one-and-done.

“The strength of our team is defense and making plays and we didn’t do it today.”

Brad Melville opened the fifth by being hit by a pitch. Blaine Rawson reached on an error and Tyler Antinone singled to load the sacks.

One out later, Chezz Glen ripped a comebacker to the pitcher. He threw home to force Melville, but the throw to first to get Glenn sailed into right field Rawson came around to score.

Blaze Glenn promptly ripped a single to plate Antinone for the 2-0 cushion.

“I told my guys to just get me one run, that’s all I needed,” said Owens.

“Toward the end, I didn’t feel good with my fastball. I wanted to go more with my curveball because I felt I could control it better.

“Overall, I threw all three well and we won.”

The Red Knights game plan was rather simple.

“We wanted to get up there, have good at-bats and put pressure on them at the plate and on the bases,” said Perkins. “We were able to do that. We caught a couple of breaks and we were able to push a couple runs across the plate.

“Both pitchers were throwing good ballgames and it was a matter of scratching a run or two across and we were fortunate enough to do that today.”

Gibson agreed.

“Those guys put a lot of pressure on us the whole game,” he said. “They run. They make you make plays. They played a good game. They’re a solid team. Hat’s off to them.

“They’re a well-coached team. I love watching Toronto play. I like what Brian does with those guys.”

Toronto now awaits the winner of today’s 5 p.m. game.

“I’m just very proud of our kids,” said Perkins.

Toronto 2, Hiland 0

Toronto 000 020 0 – 2 6 1

Hiland 000 000 0 – 0 4 4

TORONTO: Owens (WP, 1K, 2BB) and Melville; B. Glenn S, RBI; Romey S; Owens S; Lucas S; Antinone S; Stewart S.

HILAND: Mullett (LP, 1K, 1BB) and K. Yoder; Troyer S; Schrock S; J. Yoder S; Miller S.