Toronto stuns Brilliant with big rally for sweep of doubleheader

Post 86’s Zac Berger swings at a pitch during the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

TORONTO — A.J. Clegg pitched four strong innings, and catcher Johnny Marelli tallied two hits and scored the game-winning run on a base hit by Tristan Thomas in the bottom of the seventh inning to lead the Toronto Post 86 baseball team to a 9-8 victory over Brilliant Post 573 in the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday night at the Knights Baseball Complex.

The victory enabled Toronto to sweep the doubleheader. Post 86 plated three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the opener, 7-4.

Toronto trailed 7-0 going into the bottom of the fourth in the second game, but Post 86 plated three runs in the seventh to complete the improbable comeback.

There was a 58-minute rain delay in the top of the fourth. Once the teams returned to the field, Brilliant collected seven runs in the inning to gain control of the game, but Post 573 was unable to hold onto the lead.

“We were not ready to play after the rain delay,” Toronto coach Greg Herrick said. “The top of the fourth was pretty ugly.”

Post 86 (10-9) plated one run in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth to pull within two runs entering the seventh.

“We just came out of the Beast of the East,” Brilliant coach Keith ReJonis said. “We didn’t come in with a lot of pitching. Some of our pitchers have hurt arms. The pitchers we threw in the last two innings had not seen the mound for us this season.”

Zac Gulczynski and Carson Meek drew back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the seventh. Marelli followed with a base hit scoring Gulczynski making the score 8-7, and Meek scored to tie the score at 8-8 on an RBI groundout by Zac Berger. Then, Marelli, who went from first to third on the groundout, scored the winning run when Thomas reached on an infield single to third.

“We told the kids there was a lot of game left,” Herrick said asked what he told his team after the top of the fourth. “We told them it was going to take some key guys coming off of the bench and getting key hits. That is what happened. Our subs got some key hits.”

Clegg picked up the win for Post 86 in relief of starter Logan Torma. Clegg struck out nine, walked two and allowed one run on one hit in four innings of work on the mound.

Torma pitched the first three innings. He struck out three, walked three and allowed seven runs on five hits before being pulled with no outs in the fourth.

“A.J. pitched a hell of a game,” Herrick said. “He had nine strikeouts. Torma pitched well in the first three innings. The rain delay hurt him. We probably should have brought A.J. in immediately after the rain delay. Logan said he felt good, so we let him go back out there. A.J. came in, and he was able to get us out of a jam in the fourth. He battled. He pitched his butt off.”

Post 573 used three pitchers in the game.

Ryan Morgan took the loss for Brilliant. Morgan, who came into the game with no outs in the seventh, did not record a strikeout or a walk, while allowing one run on two hits.

Gino Barber started the game for Brilliant, and he struck out three, walked one and allowed four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Matt Nest and Joey Hazelip each produced a two-run single for Post 573. Fred Hertler finished with two singles and Gabe ReJonis and Coggins each contributed a single.

“The kids were on fire,” coach ReJonis said. “We have been doing that all year. We just haven’t been able to finish. They began to chip away, and they were able to come back. We weren’t able to finish it out. We also had some wild pitches that led to runs.

“Toronto is a good-hitting team. They can really stroke the ball. We want to win every time we step onto he field, but this game doesn’t matter. The regional games are the ones that matter. The kids are not going to have their heads down for long.”

After Post 573 plated seven runs in the fourth, Post 86 produced a run in the home half of the inning to make the score 7-1.

Three more Toronto runs in the fifth made the score 7-4. Brilliant tacked on another run in the sixth, but the victors added two more runs in the bottom half of the inning to make the score 8-6.

“We battled back,” Coach Herrick said. “We came up with some clutch hits. Tristan Thomas came off of the bench, and he got a clutch hit – a single that scored the game-winning run.”

Toronto got contributions from a variety of players in both games and used the game as preparation for the upcoming postseason tournament.

“We played everybody,” Coach Herrick said. “We want everyone to play.”

Toronto is scheduled to play at 6 p.m. today at home against Moundsville.

Brilliant was scheduled to play Barnesville today, but that game has been canceled. Brilliant will travel across the river to take on Weirton at 6 p.m. Thursday at Ed Bowman Field.

Toronto will play at 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Jefferson County Post 33 before opening play in the Region 7 Tournament at 3:30 p.m. Friday against Coshocton.

“Coshocton is a good team,” coach Herrick said. “We have played them three times. All three of the games have been close. We won two of the games. Coshocton is a good baseball team. They can hit the ball well.”

Game 1

Toronto 7, Brilliant 4

Brilliant 1-0-3 0-0-0 0 — 4 5 2

Toronto 0-1-3 0-0-3 x — 7 7 0

Game 2

Toronto 9, Brilliant 8

Brilliant 0-0-0 7-0-1 0 — 8 6 5

Toronto 0-0-0 1-3-2 3 — 9 10 5

BRILLIANT (5-13): Barber (4 2/3IP, 4R, 5H, 3K, 1BB), Coggins (1 1/3IP, 4R, 3H, 0K, 3BB), Morgan (LP, 1/3IP, 1R, 2H, 0K, 0BB) and Nest.

TORONTO (10-9): Torma (3IP, 7R, 5H, 3K, 3BB), Clegg (WP, 4IP, 1R, 1H, 9K, 2BB) and Gump and Marelli.

TWO OR MORE HITS: Brilliant 1 (Hertler 2); Toronto 3 (Bodnar 2, Meek 2, Marelli 2). DOUBLES: Brilliant none; Toronto 1 (Marelli). TRIPLES: Brilliant none; Toronto none. HOME RUNS: Brilliant none; Toronto none. RBIs: Brilliant 4 (Nest 2, Hazelip 2); Toronto 5 (Chetock, Herrick, Marelli, Berger, Thomas).