STEUBENVILLE - The big hit made a big difference in Thursday's high school baseball battle between Toronto and Catholic Central at Vacarro Field.
Brian Perkins' Red Knights left town with a 5-2 victory because they delivered the big hits at the right time. The Crusaders, as coach Don Young correctly noted, were "one-hit away in so many innings." Central stranded 11 base runners and twice left the sacks full.
"Early on, we left some runners in scoring position (nine to be exact through the first five innings)," Perkins said. "Then we were able to get a few big hits when we needed them."
TALKING IT OVER — Toronto head coach Brian?Perkins speaks with Austin Lucas, Brad Melville, and Nate Stewart as Central head coach Don Young speaks with his team in the background during the Red Knights’ 5-2 win over the Crusaders Thursday at Vaccaro Field in Steubenville.
-- Fred Younce
Toronto's John Marriner had the biggest hit of the contest, touching them all with a rocket shot to left in the fourth inning. He would add a single in the decisive sixth frame.
Blaze Glenn got the Red Knights going, leading off the contest with a single. He moved up a base after big brother Chez worked Central starter Chris Murphy for a walk. Blaze Glenn scored when Tyler Antinone reached on a Crusader fielding miscue.
Following Marriner's solo blast, the score would stay 2-0 until the sixth. Marriner singled to start the frame, swiped second and scored on Blaze Glenn's double. Chez Glenn followed with an RBI single to make it 4-0. Brad Melville's run-scoring base knock put the Red Knights ahead by five.
Central finally got to Nate Stewart for its runs in the home half of the inning. Josh Merriman doubled and scored on Michael Barber's two-base hit. Tony Barber's single plated his older brother.
Stewart went the route for Toronto, allowing seven hits. He worked his way out of jams in the second, third and seventh.
The Crusaders had two on with one out in the second (Stone Romano recording a single) but Stewart was able to retire the side. In the third, Central had the bases loaded with one out but again Stewart was up to the challenge. Young's club loaded the sacks again in the seventh. This time, Stewart recorded a strikeout to end the contest.
"He came out today and gave us one gutty performance," Perkins stated. "He didn't have his best stuff at times but he found a way to get the outs when we needed them.
The Toronto hurler received plenty of help from his defense, which turned two twin-killings.
"We've been playing good defense all season and we made some big plays tonight to get out of innings," Perkins added.
Murphy was the hard-luck loser for Central, working five strong innings.
"Murph did a solid job for us," Young noted. "His pitch count got up there and we made the decision to replace him when that happened."
Blaze Glenn had three singles and a double to pace Toronto's 10-hit attack. Stewart added a double for the now 5-0 Red Knights.
"I'm really happy with the way we are playing," Perkins said. "The kids are showing up with a business-like attitude and our approach is great."
Toronto will host Brooke today.
Central, now 1-2, will host Monroe Central for a double-header Saturday. The first game is set to start at 10 a.m.
Toronto 5, Catholic Central 2
Toronto 100 103 0 -5 10 2
Central 000 002 0-2 7 1
Toronto (5-0): Stewart (WP, 4K, 6BB, 1HBP) and Solomon; B. Glenn 3S, D, RBI, 2R; Marriner HR, S, RBI, 2R; C. Glenn S, RBI, R; Melville S, RBI; Stewart D; Solomon S.
Central (1-2): Murphy (LP, 4BB, 3K, 1 HBP), M. Barber (6th, 1BB, 1K) and Laukert; Murphy S; Laukert S; Colabella S; Romano S; Merriman D, R; M. Barber D, RBI, R; T. Barber S, RBI.