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Down go the defending champs

Shadyside knocks off Toronto, 11-3, in district semifinal

SWINGING AWAY — Toronto’s Avery Wiegand bats during Monday’s Division IV East district semifinal against Shadyside. -- Joe Catullo

CADIZ — Shadyside has prided itself all season on its pitching staff — especially with three no-hitters and a perfect game to its resume — heading into Monday’s Division IV East district semifinal.

The Tigers’ top three pitchers were on full display, holding defending champion and top-seeded Toronto to just three hits during an 11-3 victory.

“The mindset was to come here and leave no doubt in anybody’s mind,” Shadyside head coach Shawn Selmon said. “That is an absolute quality baseball team over there, and I wish them the best in the future. But, it is nice (to win) because Toronto has been the top dog for a long, long time. They’ll continue to be up there. It’s just we have a very talented baseball team, and they’re enjoying themselves right now.”

No. 3 seed Shadyside (21-6) advances to the district final Wednesday against second-seeded Hiland, who defeated Shenandoah, 2-0.

Clinging to a slim 2-0 advantage after four innings, the Tigers got on a roll and scored nine during the final three frames, including a five-run fifth that gave them all of the momentum.

“It wasn’t our day. We didn’t make plays in the field that we normally do. We didn’t get the timely hit that we normally get,” Toronto coach Brian Perkins said. “But I’ll tell you what — with all of that, our kids kept competing until the end. It shows on how we were able to scratch a couple of runs there at the end. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Chris Parker started for the Red Knights (22-4) and was solid through the first four frames. He was called for two balks, and one of those turned into a run. Other than that, he was getting out of jams but ran into a buzzsaw in the fifth.

With one out, Rhys Francis smacked an RBI triple, then was sent home on a Mason Vannest sacrifice fly. Two pitches later, Ryan Florence cranked a solo homer to left field for a 5-0 advantage.

Parker left after going 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, one walk and struck out four.

Caleb Leasure entered and recorded the final out, but not before allowing two more runs to score. Korey Beckett walked, Alex Baker singled and Bryce Amos brought them home with a double.

Hitting certainly was contagious.

“I think it is, and we’ve been preaching that all year,” Selmon said. “We tell the guys if they bring the bats, then we’re a very difficult team to beat. If they continue to bring them, it’s up to them how far they want to go this year.”

Toronto got its first run in the bottom of the fifth when Leasure drew a one-out walk, reached third on two wild pitches and scored on another.

The Tigers got that run back in the sixth with Jordan Joseph scoring on a wild pitch with two outs. Shadyside then left little doubt with a three-run seventh.

The Red Knights’ last two runs scored on an error and wild pitch.

“Chris has been throwing really well. He had that one bad outing prior. We just decided that it would be Chris (Monday). He did well — it just kind of got away from him,” Perkins said.

Evan Wolter tossed the final two frames and allowed four unearned runs. Toronto tallied five errors overall and three in the seventh.

Francis picked up the win in 4 1/3 innings. He allowed one run on two hits, four walks and six strikeouts. Beckett went 1 2/3 innings with two walks and four punch outs, while Vannest tossed the final frame on 22 pitches.

“Reece has been dealing all year long. All three guys that pitched are phenomenal pitchers, and that’s been one of our strengths this year,” Selmon said. “We’ve had three no-hitters and a perfect game this year. That’s a testament to how they throw the ball, and they’re bulldogs.”

Prior to the five-run fifth, the Red Knights loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fourth down 2-0. However, a first-pitch pop out to second base ended the threat.

Francis was the star at the plate with a double, triple and three RBIs, while walking twice. Vannest also plated three runs on two hits. Amos doubled and tallied three RBIs. Ben Wach led off two separate innings with singles and scored both times.

For Toronto, Dom Bouscher had a single and a double. Parker also singled. The team drew seven free passes.

GOODBYE SENIORS

Toronto is losing its seniors in Brant Reeves, Leasure, Will Earley, Parker, Bryson Anderson and Ryan Matyas.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this senior class. They made coaching fun for us this year,” Perkins said. “One thing about them was their leadership and the never-give-up attitude.

“This wasn’t a good day for us, but they refused to let the team quit, and that’s a testament to them. They’ll be missed by our entire coaching staff.”

Shadyside 11, Toronto 3

Shadyside 0-1-1 0-5-1 3 — 11 12 2

Toronto 0-0-0 0-1-0 2 — 3 3 5

SHADYSIDE (21-6): Francis (WP, 4 1/3IP, 1R, 2H, 4BB, 6K), Beckett (1 2/3IP, 0R, 0H, 2BB, 4K), Vannest (1IP, 2R (1ER), 1H, 1BB, 0K) and Florence. Joseph S; Francis D, T, 3RBIs; Vannest 2S, 3RBIs; Florence HR, RBI; Beckett 2S; Baker S; Amos D, 3RBIs; Wach 2S.

TORONTO (22-4): Parker (LP, 4 2/3IP, 5R, 7H, 1BB, 4K), Leasure (1/3IP, 2R, 2H, 1BB, 0K), Wolter (2IP, 4R (0ER), 3H, 2BB, 1K) and Earley. Bouscher S, D; Parker S.

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