Togna Shuts Down Monarchs
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
May 14, 2014, 09:45
In his first appearance since Petersburg, Owen Togna shutdown the Monarchs' lineup in a complete-game effort
RICHMOND Thomas Dale's baseball team has had to overcome multiple obstacles over the past few weeks during which the Knights had won nine-consecutive games and done so in impressive fashion. Yet, there was a sense of concern their winning streak would come to a halt against Meadowbrook Tuesday afternoon.
It's not that the Monarchs are the most talented team the Knights have faced they had just one win entering the game it was the way Thomas Dale went down in order in the first inning on just 12 pitches without putting a scare into the heavy underdog. Then, to make matters worse, the Knights had to deal with three separate 30 minute lightning delays which hindered their ability to get into a rhythm offensively.
Plus, the Monarchs did the Knights no favors by throwing four different pitchers during the course of the game to befuddle Thomas Dale's hitters with multiple looks. And for three innings, it seemed the delays and different pitchers could actually prevail over a confident Knights team. After all, the team had just two runs while the top of the order struggled, going 0-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts in the first three innings.
However, these Knights don't quit easily and have shown a penchant to make adjustments which has led to their recent form. Thomas Dale would load the bases in the 4th inning the second time they did so in two innings and Collin Fleischer didn't miss his pitch, depositing it over the left field fence for a grand slam.
The booming home run caused a celebration at home plate and seemed to awaken the rest of his teammates as the Knights would push across five additional runs in an eventual 11-0 victory for their 10th straight win.
But even after the win, Thomas Dale manager Chris Marshall was not satisfied with the length of time it took his team to adjust at the plate.
"It took us too long and we should have made it a little bit earlier," Marshall said about his team's adjustments. "But once we did, we started taking some good cuts. We kept talking about staying back and squaring the ball up ... we did it, but this team's fashion is to stuff late. If we did it earlier, I'd be a little bit happier, but wins are most important, so we'll take it and move on."
And a key reason they are able to take the win and move on was because of the dominating effort by the Owen Togna.
Togna is not among Marshall's normal rotation and has only had appearances as a reliever this season with his last outing coming April. 24 in a win over Petersburg. Yet, with three games this week and four next week, Marshall decided to turn the ball over to senior against the Monarchs and he did not disappoint.
Togna tossed a complete-game 5-inning shutout while allowing just one hit on the game a little dribbler off the bat which went about 15 feet down the left field line along with six strikeouts. Even more impressive is just two Monarchs reached base against the right-hander with one coming on a walk and the other on the infield single.
While the numbers were impressive, it was even more so when considering Togna was interrupted three separate times due to delays and instead of wilting, he became stronger as the game went on.
"He's a good pitcher, he's just kind of down on the depth-chart a little bit," Marshall explained. "When he gets his chance he comes through. He threw harder as the game went on."
Added Togna on having to keep his focus throughout the game, "I thought the delays would make me a little tight, but I just tried to keep my mechanics sound to make sure I threw strikes ... it builds a lot of confidence in case I get into another game soon."
But this game was also important for the Knights' lineup.
It's a positive sign to see the bottom of the lineup produce early-on while the top of the lineup struggled to begin the game. Thomas Dale won't get where they want if they only have a few hitters clicking and will need everyone to produce which is what made Tuesday's effort so encouraging.
Blake Hartman's solo-shot to begin the 5th inning led to a six-run rally.
There was Blake Hartman crushing a first-pitch fastball to lead-off the 5th inning, belting it over the right field fence. Then, there was Tommy Barron once again coming through in the clutch with an RBI single in the 2nd inning.
But the bottom of the lineup was not done with just those two, Taylor Trueheart finished the game with two RBIs, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a single and a triple added to his stat-line. The all-around effort is just what the Knights needed as they have now outscored teams by a 78-11 margin over the 10-game span.
"The top struggled to begin the game, but the bottom of the lineup just kept getting on and came through," Marshall said.
If they keep coming through the Knights lineup will become deeper, making the team stronger for the final push before the postseason.