WELLSBURG - Hook 'em Horne.
Cari Horne pitched another strong game inside the circle, and she helped her own cause with what turned out to be the game-winning as the Toronto softball team doubled up Brooke, 4-2, Monday night under the lights at Brooke.
Horne struck out one and walked two, but she limited the hosts to just five hits, none of which went for extra bases. Horne also received a good amount of support from the Red Knights' defense.
"They are a very-good team," Toronto head coach Gene Ciciarelli said about the Bruins. "Their coach does a great job. I knew we needed to play as well as we did to win. Brooke has a good pitcher.
"We showed a lot of toughness. Even when we had two strikes, we battled at the plate. We have battled all year.
"Our staff kept the girls up. They did a very-good job. It was a total-team effort. The girls who played in the JV game earlier were rooting and hooting."
Brooke outhit Toronto, 5-4, but the Bruins could not capitalize with runners on base while the Red Knights made their opportunities count.
"They did not have a lot of hits, but they were able to get back-to-back hits with runners on and they were able to score runs," Brooke (8-13) head coach Mike Wagner said. "Give credit to Toronto. They played good defense. When we did hit the ball hard, we hit it right at them. Their defense made some good plays. Their pitcher pitched a good game. Their defense made plays. They got timely hits when they needed to."
Kaylee Kuchinski took the loss. Kuchinski struck out eight batters while walking three.
Brooke opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first inning.
Michaela Hinerman led off the inning with a base hit. The junior stole second base, and she advanced to third base when the throw from the catcher ended up in the outfield. After a strikeout, Isabella Preston plated Hinerman on a sacrifice fly to right field.
The Bruins maintained their one-run advantage until the top of the third when the Red Knights broke through for three runs to take a lead they never relinquished. Toronto tallied three hits in the inning, and one run scored on an errant throw.
With one out, Taylor Linn drew the first of three walks in the game, and she ended up scoring on a throwing error to tie the score at 1. Becca Shaming, and Shane Sears recorded two-out base hits, and they pair scored on Horne's double into the gap to put the Red Knights out in front 3-1.
"The girls battled tonight, and hopefully that remains in their DNA forever," Ciciarelli said. "I knew it would be tough to win if we did not play our best. If we didn't play our best, it would be difficult to get a victory."
Brooke cut its deficit to 3-2 by plating a run in the fourth inning.
Taylor Simala started the inning off with a base hit, and Brette Geary, who singled in the second stanza, was hit by a pitch moving Simala up to second base. After a pop up on the infield resulted in an out, Cassie Camilletti collected a base hit scoring Simala making the score 3-2.
Geary ended up being tagged out as she attempted to advance to third base on the play. After a walk and a stolen base, Horne got out of the inning on a groundout.
"Our hitting has been up-and-down this year," Wagner said. "Sometimes we hit the ball well, other times we don't. Our pitching has been pretty solid this year.
"She (Kuchinski) threw well today, but they were able to string together a couple of hits and walks at the right time. They were able to get some timely hits, and they were able to plate some runs.
"Give credit to Toronto."
Toronto maintained its one-run advantage until the top of the seventh when the Red Knights tacked on an insurance run.
With one out, Linn walked for the third time, and she was safe at second base on an error on a ball hit by Carly Cooper. Shamming stepped to the plate, and left field bunted the ball. The ball ended up rolling past the charging Bruins' infield allowing Linn to score increasing the visitors lead to 4-2.
"The swinging bunt is something we have been really working on, and we were finally able to use it," Ciciarelli said. "Becca did a tremendous job. I thought it was the key to the game. It was just one of many things that made the difference. It was a total-team effort.
"She even asked about it today before the game. We worked on it, and she executed it perfectly. She tries so hard. She is a coachable kid."
Camilletti contributed two base hits for the Bruins.
Toronto is scheduled to return to the field today at East Liverpool. Brooke is slated to return to the field against Big Red Wednesday at Jim Wood Park.
"I want to thank the fans," Ciciarelli said. "The fan support was great. It was like having an 11th man out there since we played 10 kids. The support from the fans was great. I think the girls fed off it. It was nice to hear and see. It was special as well."