Toronto preps for districts with big victory

TORONTO — Not all big games live up to the hype, but the baseball contest between Toronto and Indian Valley did, as the game came down to the last inning and the last batter.

With the score tied, Toronto loaded the bases with nobody out. Then with one away and Kobe Herrick at the plate, Indian Valley pitcher Tanner Myers threw a strike, but the ball got away from the catcher. Nick Chetock didn’t hesitate and scored the game-winning run on an acrobatic slide into the plate, as the Red Knights toppled the Braves, 4-3, Thursday evening at the Knights Baseball Complex.

“It was a really good game between two good teams,” Toronto (21-5) head coach Brian Perkins said. “Indian Valley has a very good program. Our kids were really excited to play today.”

Both teams used the game as a tune-up for their upcoming district semifinal contests.

“It was a good tune-up for the tournament,” Indian Valley (18-4) head coach Shannon McComb said. “It was good that we were able to come down here and play. We have been trying to hook up with them the last couple of years. Coach Perkins has got a great program. It was a good baseball game against a quality opponent.”

The Red Knights had the top of the order coming to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. Chetock started the inning by drawing a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lucas Gulczynski. An errant throw to first allowed Chetock to advance to third and for Gulczynski to reach safely, as he ended up on second base on the play. Nate Karaffa was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Myers got Nick Sninchak to lineout to him for the first out but was unable to get out of the inning thanks to Chetock scoring on a bang-bang play at the plate.

“We’re preparing for the tournament,” Perkins said. “We want to play quality opponents. We want to keep after it. We want to keep having good at-bats. We want to keep fielding the ball and playing the game the right way.”

Tristan Thomas, who started the game behind the plate, picked up the win for Toronto in relief of starter A.J. Clegg. Thomas struck out one and walked one, while not allowing a run or a hit in 2 1/3 innings of work on the mound. Clegg pitched the first 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five, walked five and allowed three runs on three hits before moving to left field, sending Gulczynski behind the plate.

Myers took the loss for Indian Valley in relief of starter Braeden Lehigh. Myers did not record a strikeout, walked two and allowed one run on one hit in his two innings on the mound. Lehigh struck out four, walked two and allowed three runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings of work.

Gulczynski tallied three singles and an RBI for Toronto. Clegg collected an RBI double, and Brendan Matyas singled home a run. Chetock, Sninchak, Herrick and Thomas all recorded a base hit.

“The kids are preparing for the district semifinal,” Perkins said. “We are looking to get ready for that game. We look forward to representing the city of Toronto.”

For the Braves, Ryan Berger delivered with a two-run single, while Karson Hatrick and Kyle Enos each singled.

The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the second when the Red Knights erupted for three runs to take the early lead. Clegg doubled down the left-field line to plate the first run, and Matyas singled home the second run to increase Toronto’s advantage to 2-0. Two batters later, Gulczynski pated a run with his second hit of the game to extend the Red Knights advantage to 3-0.

“We played really well,” Perkins said. “We had great at-bats, and we had great pitching. We made all of the plays in the field, and we ran the bases well. If we continue to do that, we are going to have success.”

The score remained the same until there were two outs in the top of the fifth. Berger ripped a two-run single to pull the Braves within 3-2, and a balk on Thomas allowed the tying run to score before Thomas picked off a runner trying to go third.

“The way they hit the ball,” McComb said when asked what stands out about Toronto. “They put the ball in play. They hit the ball hard. They play great defense, and they have quality pitching.”

With this game in the books, the two teams turned their attention to their upcoming postseason games. Toronto is scheduled to play Hiland at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Minerva, while Indian Valley is slated to play River View at 5 p.m. at Cambridge.

“My hat is off to Indian Valley,” Perkins said. “They made some great defensive plays. They have a heck of a program. They made a bunch of plays. We expected it to be a battle to the end.”

The winner of the semifinal between Indian Valley and River View will play the winner of Big Red and Maysville at 5 p.m. Wednesday at a location to be announced.

“We have to win first,” McComb said about a potential date with Big Red. “Steubenville has a quality program. We have played them a couple of times in the playoffs, but first we have to win on Monday.”

Toronto 4, Indian Valley 3

Indian Valley 0-0-0 0-3-0 0 — 3-3-1

Toronto 0-3-0 0-0-0 1 — 4-9-1

INDIAN VALLEY (18-4): Lehigh (ND, 4 1/3IP, 3R, 8H, 4K, 2BB), Myers (LP, 2IP, 1R, 1H, 0K, 2BB) and Sciarini

TORONTO (21-5): Clegg (ND, 4 2/3IP, 3R, 3H, 5K, 5BB), Thomas (WP, 2 1/3IP, 0R, 0H, 1K, 1BB) and Thomas and Gulczynski (5)

TWO OR MORE HITS: Indian Valley none; Toronto 1 (Gulczynski 3). DOUBLES: Indian Valley none; Toronto 1 (Clegg). TRIPLES: Indian Valley none; Toronto none. HOME RUNS: Indian Valley; Toronto none. RBIs: Indian Valley 2 (Berger 2); Toronto 3 (Gulczynski, Clegg, Matyas).