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St. Clairsville Holds Off Toronto

By AARON PETCHAL

For the News-Register

TORONTO – Herm Edwards famously said, “You play to win the game,” however, while the outcome is important, the Toronto and St. Clairsville baseball teams used Friday’s matchup to prepare them for their upcoming games in their respective district tournaments.

The game appeared to be a five-inning affair as the Red Devils led 10-0 with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, however, the Red Knights refused to die as the boys from the Gem City rallied and ended up cutting their deficit to five runs. The visitors regrouped and scored a pair of insurance runs in the seventh and held on for a 12-5 victory Friday evening at the Knights Baseball Complex.

“This game was about getting ready for and preparing for the district tournament,” Toronto (17-11) head coach Brian Perkins said. “Tom does a heck of a job with his team. We had a good relationship. We decided to get a game in. We wanted to play a game before the district tournament.”

The boys from Belmont County outhit their Jefferson County counterparts, 18-5, however, the Scarlet and Gray committed seven errors in the final three innings allowing the hosts to battle their way back into the game.

“I’m very happy,” St. Clairsville (17-6) head coach Tom Sliva said. “We were able to get some guys some innings, and we were able to get some guys some at-bats. We were just trying to get ready for the district tournament.”

The Red Devils used 15 players in the win with 13 of them batting and four seeing time on the mound. St. Clairsville sent 46 batters to the plate.

“This game was more about getting ready for the tournament,” Sliva said. “We just want to compete. No matter where or when we play, we want to compete. I think we did a good job of doing that today. I wish Toronto good luck in the rest of their season.”

Brody Saunders started on the mound and picked up the win for the Red Devils. Saunders struck out two and walked one in two innings of work. He was replaced by Mason Myers to start the third. Myers did not record a strikeout, while walking one in his two innings on the mound. Austin Porter came on to start the fifth, and he pitched the next two innings. Porter struck out two, while not walking a batters. Zac Vickers pitched the seventh. He struck out one, while not walking a batter.

Nate Brownfield started and took the loss for Toronto. Brownfield struck out three and walked one in his three innings of work. He was replaced to start the fourth by Blake Close. Close did not record a strikeout, while walking two in his 2/3 of an inning on the bump. Close was replaced by Aiden Filby, and Filby finished the game. He struck out three and walked two in his 3 1/3 innings of work on the mound.

After stranding a pair of runners in the first, the victors scored 10 runs in the next four innings to put themselves on the verge of ending the game via the mercy rule. The Red Devils recorded two runs in the second and two more in the third before plating three in the fourth and three more in the fifth.

Individually, Vickers recorded two singles, a double and three RBI, Porter produced a two-run double and Myers contributed a single, a double and an RBI. Also, Jaren Starks collected two singles and an RBI, Joey Balgo delivered a two-run single and Marcus Bush chipped in with a single and a double. Next, Braylen Bloomquist tallied two singles, Ryan Nau, Hunter Hoffman, Harison Kazmirski and Logan Shields all finished with a single, while Jacob Saffell brought home a run with a sacrifice fly.

Individually for the Red and White, Filby doubled, Zane Kinsey and Andy Silverthorn each collected an RBI single and Evan Wolter recorded a base hit in what may have been his last high school game at the KBC.

Champions don’t quit, and Toronto showed that as the Red Knights scored three runs in the home half of the fifth to extend the game.

St. Clairsville assisted Toronto in a big way as the Red Devils imploded defensively in the inning. With one out in the inning and having played a clean game up to that point, St. Clairsville committed four errors, including three straight at one point, while also hitting a batter as Toronto plated three to stay alive.

“We put the ball in play,” Perkins said. “They made some mistakes, and we capitalized on them. We chipped away at their lead. We had a chance to score some more runs, but we just not get that big hit when we needed it.”

Trailing 10-3 in the sixth, the Red Knights continued to battle back and the scored two more runs to make it a 10-5 ballgame. The Red Devils committed two more errors in the inning.

St. Clairsville’s seventh error allowed Toronto’s lead-off batter to reach in the seventh, however, the next three batters were retired ending the threat and the game.

“I love the way our kids fought,” Perkins said. “They battled back. They showed a lot of heart and character.”

Toronto – the No. 3 seed – will take on No. 1 Shadyside in a Division IV District Semifinal at 5 p.m. Tuesday at John Blacker in Bellaire. Meanwhile, St. Clairsville – the No. 4 seed – will play No. 8 seed Meadowbrook on a Division II District Semifinal at 5 p.m. Monday at Don Coss Field in Cambridge.

The Red Knights are slated to practice this morning and Monday prior to taking on the Tigers. The game against the Red Knights was also the Red Devils last one prior to playing the Colts.

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