Toronto takes 20th straight crown

BRIDGEPORT – There are times when some things change, but then again, there are some times when nothing changes.

Take the Division IV sectional baseball tournament.

For the 20th consecutive year, Toronto has advanced to the district tournament by virtue of capturing a co-sectional title. Friday night on the Niekro Diamond at Perkins Field, the Red Knights (14-10) kept Bridgeport’s sectional tournament misery alive with a 7-4 come-from-behind nod.

“What’s really neat is that none of these kids were born when this streak started,” Toronto head coach Brian Perkins said. “We’re peaking at the right time. We’re a young team and struggled early on, but the kids are playing really well right now. This is the time to get hot.”

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs haven’t made it out of the sectional since some time in the early to mid 1990s.

“We had our chances,” Bridgeport head coach Ted Downing allowed. “We made some outstanding plays on defense, but we also made a few mistakes and they compounded in that one inning (the fifth).

“We had some big chances to get things done. We had the bases loaded twice and only score three runs. We just couldn’t get the key big hit. You can’t leave runners on like that against a good team.”

The Bulldogs (17-8) took a 2-0 lead in the first without the benefit of a hit. After getting the first two batters, Toronto starting pitcher Jarin McIntosh walked the next five batters to force in both runs.

Toronto scored four times in the third inning to chase Bridgeport starter, Parker Dyson, who was coming off a five-inning no-hitter against River on Tuesday when he threw a mere 74 pitches.

A walk to the Red Knights’ No. 9 hitter, Sam Pinkerton, jump-started the outburst. Chez Glenn followed with the second straight four-pitch base-on-balls before Nate Stewart belted a single up the middle to score Pinkerton. Blaze Glenn’s ground-rule double to left-center made it 2-2, and Tyler Antinone’s single through the box gave the designated visitors a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish. Bailey McGrath relieved and put out the fire without further damage.

Bridgeport got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning when Dyson unloaded a bomb to left-center that cleared the fence for a solo roundtripper.

However, three errors in the top of the fourth sealed the Bulldogs’ fate as the Red Knights scored three more times to take a 7-3 lead. Two runs crossed the plate via the errors, while McIntosh drew a bases-loaded walk for an RBI.

Bridgeport scored once in the fourth on a groundout, but McIntosh got tough down the stretch. He finished with six strikeouts, but walked eight. He threw 140 pitches.

“He was on a big leash,” Perkins said of McIntosh’s early struggles. “He didn’t have his best stuff today, but he battled and battled.”

McGrath finished with seven Ks and two walks.

Toronto moves on to district action Tuesday at Don Coss Field in the Cambridge City Park.