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Post 573 pulls off brilliant comeback to spoil Toronto Post 86’s opener

MAKING THE THROW — Brilliant Post 573’s Austen Rejonis throws to first attempting to turn a double play after forcing Toronto Post 86’s Nick Chetock out at second base during Wednesday’s game. -- Andrew Grimm

TORONTO — The Toronto Post 86 Legion baseball team appeared to be cruising to a victory against Brilliant Post 573, but suddenly the wheels came off, allowing Brilliant to complete an improbable comeback.

Trailing by eight runs after the second inning, Post 573 plated the final 10 runs of the game as Brilliant stunned Toronto, 12-10, Wednesday evening at the Knights Baseball Complex.

“We talked to the players about the umpire,” Brilliant (3-2) head coach Keith ReJonis said. “Umpires have their own discretion. We talked to our ace. He came back this year. He was our ace last year. We told him to fill up the zone, and to make Toronto swing the bat. He did that, and you saw what happened. He took the umpire’s discretion away, and he made them swing the bat.”

Post 86 produced five runs in each of the first two innings, but Toronto’s bats were held in check in the final five innings.

“We squandered the lead,” Toronto (0-1) head coach Steve Sninchak said. “The momentum changed. Our approach at the plate changed. We did not stay aggressive. We didn’t do what we did do to score those 10 runs in the first two innings. Plus, when you have six errors and eight or nine walks, you aren’t going to win too many games.”

With the game deadlocked at 10 going into the seventh inning, Post 573 posted a pair of runs to take a 12-10 lead.

Toronto got the lead-off batter on to start the bottom of the inning, but a fielder’s choice, a flyout and a strikeout ended the game.

Collin Holmes picked up the win for Brilliant despite giving up 10 runs in the first two innings. Holmes, who threw 120 pitches, struck out three, walked six and allowed 10 runs on eight hits in going the distance.

“You have to give their pitcher credit, but at the same time we did not have the same approach” Sninchak said. “We lost our focus. We did not have the same approach we did early in the game. He threw strikes, his off-speed worked, but we did not have the same approach. We just swung the bat. We had some hard-hit balls but we lost our approach, and when you go up there just swinging away, you are not going to have success.”

Toronto used three pitchers.

Seth Kerner started on the mound, and he pitched the first four innings. Kerner struck out three, walked six and allowed five runs on three hits.

Zac Berger came on in relief to start the fifth. Berger struck out two, walked one and allowed five runs on three hits before being pulled with two outs in the fifth.

Cole Bodnar came on and pitched the rest of the way. Bodnar, who took the loss, struck out one, walked one and allowed two runs on two hits in 2 1/3 innings of work on the mound.

Both teams totaled eight hits — one for extra bases — in the game.

For Brilliant, Mason Goodard delivered two singles, Dasyn Hores added a double and an RBI and Shayne Christian and Daniel Kelly each collected a run-scoring single.

Also, Anthony Coggins contributed two RBIs, and Chase Ward, Austen ReJonis and Vince Patrone all produced a base hit.

“We know we can hit,” coach ReJonis said. “We can hit up and down the order. We played some small ball today. We had some bunts and some fake bunts. We also were able to take advantage of some wild pitches.”

For Toronto, Conrad Gump contributed three singles and an RBI, Nick Chetock collected two singles and two RBIs and Brandon Boyd delivered two RBIs.

Also, Johnny Marelli, Chris Parker and Jory Clapham all tallied an RBI, Nick Sninchak singled twice and Berger belted a double.

Brilliant tallied two runs in the top of the first inning to take the early lead. The runs scored on an error and a wild pitch.

Toronto answered with five runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 5-2 lead. Marelli and Boyd drew back-to-back bases-loaded walks to tie the score, Parker and Clapham plated runs when they were hit by pitches back-to-back and Chetock singled home the fifth run.

Post 86 extended its advantage to eight runs by scoring five runs in the home half of the second to increase its advantage to 10-2.

Boyd, Gump and Chetock all collected an RBI in the inning. Boyd drew his second bases-loaded walk of the game to bring home a run, Gump plated a run with a base hit and Chetock brought another runner home with a groundout.

“It is not easy winning here especially with all of the talent they have got,” coach ReJonis said. “We played them last year. We were able to beat them last year for the first time in a long time. We are competitive. This was our first game against them this year. We are going to see them two more times. Those games should be interesting.”

Brilliant lost to Wheeling, 14-1, in five innings Tuesday at home, and although Post 573 trailed by eight runs going into the third inning, the visitors did not lose hope.

“Not with Collin on the mound,” Coach ReJonis said. “We have faith in Collin. We knew he would find the strike zone. We told the kids they could finish the game. They believe that. The seven new guys we have taken on don’t know the philosophy of our team. We have a nice roster.”

After a scoreless third inning, Brilliant plated three runs in the fourth to pull within 10-5. Then, after keeping Toronto off the board, Post 573 produced five runs in the fifth to knot the score at 10-all.

The comeback was aided by walks by the Toronto pitchers, wild pitches and errors by the Post 86 defense.

In the seventh, Brilliant scored a run on a wild pitch and the other came on a Toronto error.

“I give our kids credit,” coach Sninchak said. “This was their first time together. Our out-of-towners had to wait for everything that happened (the Toronto high school baseball team winning the state championship Sunday) to be done. We had never gotten together. We had to wait for the Toronto kids.

“We made some mistakes. We made some mental mistakes. We messed up some bunt coverages. We need our pitchers to throw strikes. Some of them have been off for a while. They have not thrown live off a mound.”

UP NEXT

Brilliant: Is slated to play Dover (Tuscarawas County) Post 205 at Tuscora Park.

Toronto: Is scheduled to play the West Virginia Monarchs at home. Post 86 is scheduled to take on the Monarchs Friday on the road. Its doubleheader against Coshocton Post 65 scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday at the KBC has been canceled due to the Cherokees not having enough players to play.

Brilliant 12, Toronto 10

Brilliant 2-0-0 3-5-0 2 — 12-8-2

Toronto 5-5-0 0-0-0 0 — 10-8-6

BRILLIANT (3-2): Holmes (WP, 7IP, 10R, 8H, 3K, 6BB) and Coggins

TORONTO (0-1): Kerner (4IP, 5R, 3H, 3K, 6BB), Berger (2/3IP, 5R, 3H, 2K, 1BB), Bodnar (LP, 2 1/3IP, 2R, 2H, 1K, 1BB) and Gump

TWO OR MORE HITS: Brilliant 1 (Goodard 2); Toronto (Gump 3, Chetock 2, Sninchak 2). DOUBLES: Brilliant (Hores); Toronto 1 (Berger). TRIPLES: Brilliant none; Toronto none. HOME RUNS: Brilliant none; Toronto none. RBIs: Brilliant 5 (Coggins 2, Hores, Christian, Kelly); Toronto 8 (Chetock 2, Boyd 2, Marelli, Parker, Clapham, Gump)

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