Jefferson County edges Toronto, concludes regular season on fire
TORONTO — There is a reason Jefferson County and Toronto like to schedule each other late in the season.
That reason is each wants a test before the tournament starts.
Tuesday evening at the Knights Baseball Complex, Post 33 edged Post 86, 6-5, in a matchup that could take place again this weekend with a lot more on the line.
“We did enough to win the game,” Jefferson County head coach Anthony Pierro said. “You just want to get some momentum (going into the tournament). We have been a little up and down the last three or four days. I think we’re on the right path.
“It’s good to have a close game like this to see what our guys do in big situations. We wanted to see how we handle adversity, and I thought we did a good job.”
Andrew Kinney got the ball in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Edison product fanned the first two he faced, en route to earning the save. He was the third pitcher for Jefferson County (37-7-1) after Evan Lewis (win, 3 1/3 innings, one strikeout) and Anthony Sinicropi (2 2/3 innings, five strikeouts) put it in position to close out the win.
“A.K. came in at the end and got us the save,” Pierro said. “They are all three high school starters, and they all throw decently hard. They can give you problems.”
Noah Fayak broke out of a slump and recorded a pair of hits, including the only hit by either team to plate multiple runs with a two-run single in the top of the fourth inning.
“The last four or five games he had been hitting the ball right at guys,” Pierro said. “He hasn’t been getting any breaks. I’m glad he got a couple balls to drop to get that momentum back. He is one of our best hitters, and he needs to believe that.”
Dom DeFrances and George Ash each recorded two singles.
Post 33 took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Clayton Criss singled in Fayak, who drew a walk from Toronto starter Chris Parker.
It added to it in the top of the fourth for a 5-0 lead. Alec McBane reached on a fielder’s choice and scored when Klay Cottis put a ball in play. Toronto committed a costly error with two out. George Ash singled and scored on a passed ball, while Klay Cottis and Anthony Sinicropi both crossed home plate on Fayak’s big hit.
Post 86 did not go away quietly, though.
Brandon Boyd and Nick Chetock drew back-to-back walks to start the bottom half of the inning. Herrick then plated Boyd with a single, and Coy Amis drew a walk.
Cole Bodnar plated a run with a single, and Seth Kerner plated another with a sacrifice fly to left. An additional run scored on an error to make it 5-4.
“To give up four and go down 5-0 and answer right back with four of our own shows the character of this team,” Toronto coach Steve Sninchak said. “I tell the guys to give ourselves a chance in the last inning, and we did. (Jefferson County) is probably the team to beat going into the tournament. I like playing them because we know we’re playing the best — we stayed right with them — and that gets you ready. That’s why we like to schedule them right here near the end.”
An RBI single by Ash made it 6-4 in the top of the fifth, before an RBI groundout by Kerner made it a one-run game again in the bottom of the sixth. Toronto stranded two in the sixth, and Kinney shut the door on the comeback in the seventh.
With about a 10-minute drive separating the teams’ home fields and most of the players having played against each other at various levels, Tuesday’s game had a rivalry feel on both sides.
“The kids know each other,” Pierro said. “They have played against each other. It makes a little more competitive, and that’s what we want.”
“You could hear the chirping between the dugouts,” he said. “In the end, they shake hands and are good friends. Both teams want to beat each other.”
The focus for both teams Tuesday was to get ready for the weekend.
“I feel like we’ve got the reps and we’ve got the games (to be ready),” Pierro said. “We’re going to have a couple of days off here and our pitching at full-strength. We’re ready to go.”
Sninchak likes the way his team has come together late in the season after a delayed start.
“I like where we are at right now,” he said. “Our guys are focused and getting tournament ready. From kids not knowing each other at the beginning to where we are at today, I’m happy. The kids are buying into what we do here. It was tough to lose the first two weeks of the season.”
Both teams’ regular seasons have concluded and they are off until the district tournament, which begins Friday in Coshocton.
Toronto faces Conneaut at 1 p.m. Friday in the tournament opener. Jefferson County follows with a 4 p.m. meeting with host Coshocton.
(Grimm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jefferson County 6, Toronto 5
Jefferson 1-0-0 4-1-0 0 — 6-9-1
Toronto 0-0-0 4-0-1 0 — 5-7-2
JEFFERSON COUNTY (37-7-1): Lewis (WP, 3 1/3IP, 4R. 4ER, 4H, 1K, 3BB), Sinicropi (2 2/3IP, 1R, 1ER, 3H, 5K, 2BB), Kinney (SV, 1IP, 0R, 0H, 2K, 1BB) and Criss.
TORONTO (7-9): Parker (LP, 3 2/3IP, 5R, 1ER, 5H, 2K, 3BB), Boyd (1 1/3IP, 1R, 0ER, 2H, 1K, 1BB, 1HBP), Berger (1IP, 0R, 2H, 1K, 0BB) and Marelli.
TWO OR MORE HITS: Jefferson County (Fayak 2, DeFrances 2, Ash 2); Toronto (Bodnar 2). DOUBLES: none. TRIPLES: none. HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: Jefferson County 4 (Fayak 2, Criss, Ash); Toronto 4 (Herrick, Bodnar, Kerner 2).