TORONTO - Brooke made a late rally Friday against Toronto at the Knight Baseball Complex, but the Red Knights were up to the task and held off the Bruins for a 5-3 win.
"This first week of the season our kids have shown a lot of character," said Toronto head coach Brian Perkins. "They just show up everyday and they play hard.
"They show a lot of enthusiasm everyday and get after it."
AND THE PITCH — Toronto starting pitcher Nate Stewart throws a pitch Friday during the Red Knights 5-3 win over Brooke at the Knight Baseball Complex.
The Red Knights built a 5-0 lead after five innings before the Bruins rallied with three runs in the top of the sixth, but Toronto relief pitcher Tyler Owens, who picked up the win, was able to finish up what was a quality start for freshman Nate Stewart to hold on.
"Nate Stewart came out as a freshman, it was the first time he's pitched varsity baseball, and he did a great job of keeping them off balance and just throwing strikes and giving our kids a chance to field the ball," said Perkins. "He did a wonderful job."
After a scoreless first inning the Red Knights picked up their first run of the game in the bottom of the second. With two outs Tyler Antinone reached with a walk followed by back-to-back Evan Johnson and Chez Glenn singles to load the bases. Owens drew another walk from Brooke pitcher Aaron Walker to push in Antinone for the 1-0 Toronto lead. Walker struck out the next batter to minimize the damage.
Toronto 5, Brooke 3
Brooke 000 003 0 - 3 8 0
Toronto 010 130 x - 5 11 2
BROOKE: Walker (4K, 5BB), Hildreth (LP, 5th 1K, 0BB), Lombardi (6th, 0K, 0BB) and Breen. Schwertfeger RBI; Hildreth S, RBI; Jeffries S; Buchmelter S; DiPasquale 2S, D, run; Welch S, run; Schambach D, RBI, run.
TORONTO (3-1): Stewart (2K, 5BB), Owens (WP, 5th, 1K, 0BB), Stewart (6th, 1K, 0BB), Owens (6th, 0K, 0BB) and King. Owens S, 3RBI, run; Lucas S; Sninchak 2S, RBI; King D, S, run; Melville 2S, run; Antinone S, RBI, 2 runs; Johnson S; Glenn S.
Toronto made it 2-0 with another run in the fourth. Owens drew another two-out walk. Austin Lucas and Spenser Sninchak followed Owens with a single each. Sninchak's brought Owens home for the 2-0 lead.
Brooke had an opportunity to put a dent in the scoreboard with runners on first and second with one out in the top of the fifth. Owens entered the game for Stewart and shut the door on the threat with a strikeout and a groundout.
Things broke open for Toronto in the bottom of the fifth after a Brooke pitching change that brought Heath Hildreth in for Walker. Ralph King led off with a double and was pushed to third on a Brad Melville single. An Antinone single drove in King for the 3-0 lead. Three batters later Owens stroked a two-out single to bring in Melville and Antinone to make the score 5-0 Red Knights.
Stewart returned to the mound in the top of the sixth for the Red Knights. Paul DiPasquale hit a lead off single followed by Brent Pellen striking out. Kelaen Welch reach on an error and Austin Schambach blasted a double that scored DiPasquale and put Welch on third. With the score 5-1 Owens returned to the game. Russell Schwertfeger hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Welch and a Hildreth base knock plated Schambach to make the score 5-3. Owens forced the next batter to ground out to end the inning.
"Losses are always hard to take but you have to take some positives out of it," said Brooke head coach Ron Ujcich. "We fought back, we stayed in the game, we didn't give up down 5-0 and that's a big key early in the season. We showed a lot of fight."
Brooke pitcher Mario Lombardi entered in the bottom of the sixth and kept Toronto off the scoreboard to set up the Bruins with a chance in the top of the seventh to tie or take the lead.
It looked as though they were going to take advantage when back-to-back Steven Jeffries and Alec Buchmelter singles started the frame. Owens stepped up, forcing two harmless popups and a groundout to secure the win.
"Our pitchers threw strikes," said Ujcich. "I just think behind them we have to make a few plays. We left a lot of guys stranded. We needed a few big hits we didn't get today."
Both teams take the field today for doubleheaders with Toronto hosting Martins Ferry and Brooke entertaining Parkersburg South.