TORONTO - Craftsman makes a variety of quality tools.
Fortunately for the Red Knights, Shane Sears' tool of choice Thursday evening was a bat. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Sears singled home Carley Cooper with the game-winning run enabling the Toronto softball team to rally for a 5-4 victory over visiting Oak Glen.
"We knew going into the game that nothing was going to be easy for us," Toronto head coach Gene Ciciarelli said. "The girls showed a lot of patience and poise at the plate. We had a good batting practice session yesterday. The girls were swinging at pitches in the strike zone.
MAKING THE TAG — Toronto catcher Kayla Brown tags out Oak Glen’s Jordan Cunningham during Thursday’s 5-4 win by the Red Knights in Toronto. The teams combined for 22 hits, four strikeouts and no walks.
-- Fred Younce
"We told them to hit the pitches they could hit. They were waiting on their pitch, and they hit the ball. That is something we have really emphasized that."
The teams combined for 22 hits, just four strikeouts and no walks.
"We hit the ball," Oak Glen (6-17) head coach Michelle McHaffie said. "We made progress. They definitely came ready to play today. They wanted to play. I am not disappointed in that."
The Golden Bears were able to do more damage with the bat as Oak Glen outhit Toronto, 15-7.
Unfortunately the girls from Hancock County left several runners stranded, and to make matters worse, the Golden Bears had two girls thrown out on the bases and included one at the plate.
"That is something we can learn from," McHaffie said. "We told them to be more aggressive on the bases. You need to take chances to win games.
"This game is something we can build upon unlike our last game."
Sears' single made a winner out of Cari Horne.
Sears and catcher Kayla Brown each contributed two singles and an RBI, Horne delivered a run-scoring single and Myranda Blanton and Chelsea Anderson each added RBI.
Jordan Cunningham took the loss. The senior struck out three.
"Jordan threw the ball well," McHaffie said. "That might be the best I have seen her throw.
"We battled. We weren't the home team. Toronto was the home team and not us. Hopefully, things will change when we are the home team on Monday."
Offensively, Ashley Pryor produced a single and a run-scoring double, Logan Andrews, Mikayla Crane and Cunningham all collected run-scoring singles and Casey Patterson and Shayni Vega each tallied two base hits.
"They swung the bat well," Ciciarelli said. "It was the way the game was going. I think Cari felt she was in control. Her control might have been a little off. She was around the plate.
"I don't know how she was throwing her breaking ball. Sometimes with the cold weather it is hard to throw the breaking the ball. It was a little nippy today, but she battled."
The Golden Bears struck first with a run in the top of the first inning. Young reached on a base hit and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Pryor reached on a base hit, and after the second out, Cunningham followed with a single scoring Young.
Oak Glen added to its lead with a run in the top of the second.
With two outs, Young reached on an error and scored on a single by Andrews.
Toronto tied the score in the bottom half of the inning with two unearned runs. Emily Anderson and Lexie Berger reached on back-to-back errors, and both scored on groundouts - by Blanton and Chelsea Anderson.
The Golden Bears had a golden opportunity to break the tie in the third, but Berger threw out a sliding Cunningham, who was trying to score on a flyout to centerfield.
"That catch and throw by Lexie was the play of the game," Ciciarelli said. "Blanton also made a nice catch in right field, and Sears made the diving catch at second base. Those were all good plays."
Oak Glen pushed two runs across in the fourth to regain the lead. Vega led off the inning with a bunt single and scored on a two-out double by Pryor putting the Golden Bears back out in front 3-2. Pryor scored on a single by Crane for a 4-2 advantage.
Toronto plated two runs in the fifth to tie the score as Horne and Brown belted back-to-run run-scoring base hits.
The Golden Bears got one runner on in the sixth and again in the seventh, but they were unable to bring the runner home.
Both teams are scheduled to return to the field at 5 p.m. today on the road. Toronto will play at Bridgeport, while Oak Glen will travel to rival Beaver Local.
Toronto 5, Oak Glen 4
Oak Glen 110 200 0 - 4 15 4
Toronto 002 020 1 - 5 7 2
OAK GLEN (6-17): Cunningham (LP, 3K, 0BB) and Crane; Young S; Andrews 2S, RBI; Pryor S, D, RBI; Crane 2S, RBI; Cunningham 2S, RBI; McGaffic S; Murray S; Patterson 2S; Vega 2S.
TORONTO (10-5): Horne (WP, 1K, 0BB) and Brown; Schaming S; Sears 2S, RBI; Horne S, RBI; Brown 2S, RBI; Blanton RBI; C. Anderson RBI; Cooper S.