Toronto finishes season at 11-19

TORONTO – Either way you look at, one inning determined the outcome.

The Wayne County baseball team plated five runs in the bottom of the third inning to break open a tie ballgame en route to a 6-3 victory over Toronto in an elimination game in the second game of a tripleheader Saturday at the Knight Baseball Complex.

“At this point, it is all about sending someone home,” Wayne County (24-6-2) head coach Barry Craddock said. “In the loser’s bracket, you either win or you go home. Now, it is time to see how many teams we can send home.”

Post 86 put up quite a fight against the Gunslingers, but in the end Toronto was unable to overcome its one bad inning.

“It was one bad inning,” Toronto (11-19) head coach Steve Sninchak said. “If that one inning doesn’t happen who knows what could have happened. I am proud as heck of the kids. They fought.”

Adam O’Brien, Wayne County’s No. 5 starter, recorded the win. O’Brien struck out two and walked four in six innings of work. O’Brien was relieved in the seventh by Aaron Saal. He struck out five and issued one free pass in his three innings.

Offensively, the Post 66 batters made solid contact throughout the game, but the Gunslingers failed to come up with many timely hits.

Individually, Thomas Davenport tallied a two-run double, Cam Daugherty collected a single and two RBI and Drew Wharton ended up with a single, a triple and an RBI. Also, Joey Gilmore recorded a single and a double, and Saal singled.

“If you saw, we didn’t get many big hits,” Craddock said. “We left a lot of runners on base. At one point, we left nine runners on, and we left six in scoring position.

“Tom had the biggest hit for us with his two-run double. That extended the lead. We left a lot of runners, but you have to give credit to them. Their relief pitcher came in and shut us down. He did a great job.”

Hank Clegg took the loss. Clegg recorded one strikeout and three walks in two-plus innings of work on the hill. Nate Stewart pitched the final six innings. Stewart tallied four strikeouts and two walks.

“Hank started out well,” Sninchak said. “He got in a little trouble in that one inning.”

Stewart, who started and lost Post 86’s tournament opener against Massillon, came on in the third after Clegg was unable to record an out in the stanza. Stewart, who was only able to record three outs in Post 86’s 7-6 loss to Post 221, limited the damage in the inning, and he kept Toronto within striking distance of the Gunslingers the rest of the way.

“Nate did well,” Sninchak said. “He was able to come back mentally. He was ready to go.”

Offensively, Post 86 was only able to muster four hits. Catcher Billy Solomon led the way with three singles and an RBI, and pinch-hitter Jesse McClurg recorded a two-out base hit in the top of the ninth.

Wayne County got the scoreboard first with a run in the top of the first. Gilmore doubled to start the game, and he scored when Daugherty reached on an error with one out. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases, but Clegg was able to get the next two batters to keep the score at 1-0.

Post 86 came right back and plated a run of its own in the second stanza. Solomon led off the inning with a single, and he ended up scoring on a wild pitch to tie the score at 1.

After a scoreless second inning, the Gunslingers broke the game open with their five-run inning in the third.

The inning began when Tom Huettner reached on a dropped fly ball in center. Huettner ended up on second base on the play. Next, Daugherty delivered a single to plate Huettner to put Post 66 out in front, 2-1. Then, Seth Carnahan walked and Saal singled to load the bases.

Wharton was then hit by a pitch to plate Daugherty increasing the Gunslingers lead to 3-1. Saal scored on a wild pitch, and then two more runs scored on Davenport’s double to increase Wayne County’s lead to 6-1.

Post 86 put another run on the scoreboard in the fifth to cut its deficit to 6-2. Jay Lane led off the inning with a walk, and he came around to score on an error.

Toronto tacked on another run in the sixth. Tyler Owens and Jarin McIntosh reached on back-to-back errors to start the frame, and Solomon singled home Owens to make the score 6-3. Post 86 had a chance to pull even closer, but McIntosh was thrown out at the plate on a groundball hit to third.

“I think this season was a success for us,” Sninchak said. “We definitely improved. We played some real good baseball. We have a lot of young kids. This is something to build on.”

With the win, Wayne County will now play Tuscarawas County at 3 p.m. today in another elimination game at the KBC. Tuscarawas County defeated Massillon Saturday in a game played at Vaccaro Field.

“Pitching is crucial,” Craddock said. “Adam has been our No. 5 starter all year. We will have our No. 1 starter on full rest. We will have our No. 3 and No. 4 starters on full rest. Our No. 2 starter will be on full rest if we make it to Monday.

“We are in a good position, but if you don’t play well it doesn’t mean anything. All of the teams left are good teams. This region always has good teams in it.”

The winner of the game between the Panthers and the Gunslingers will play the loser of the winner bracket final at 6 p.m. at Toronto.

Toronto faced Wayne County as a resulting of rallying to defeat Richmond, 3-2, earlier in the day in the completion of a game halted Friday due to the inclement weather that hit the area.

“All of these games definitely help,” Sninchak said. “They keep the kids out playing. We are going to have a real-good group of kids coming back. We hope to make next year even better.”

John Romey is the lone player who played in the tournament Post 86 will be losing next year.

“He missed the last two days and the last three games,” Sninchak said. “We have a young group of kids. They showed they were able to compete against good competition. They showed what they can do.”