By Larry Moko
When the wind picked up so did the action at Mohawk Sports Park.
Playing in calm conditions during the early stages, the Bishop Tonnos Titans and Bishop Ryan Celtics were scoreless entering the third inning of their Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high school baseball semifinal Tuesday.
But then the wind gusts arrived and so did the scoring. The Titans eventually advanced with a 12-11 victory.
Bishop Tonnos will face the St. Thomas More Knights Thursday at Bernie Arbour Stadium for the league title. The defending champion Knights took the their semifinal, 13-4, over the St. Mary Crusaders.
“It was a wild game,” Tonnos coach Richard Sayej said. “The wind played havoc with the pitchers. Balls were just out of reach for some of the outfielders. Usually-routine balls ended up to be a little chaotic out there.”
The Titans and Celtics put together several multi-run innings apiece during the see-saw contest.
“They took five runs on us,” Sayej said, “and we got five back on them to take the lead.”
One of the key performers for the Titans was third baseman/relief pitcher Jayden Pavao. In addition to stroking an RBI double and a game-winning single, he also retired the side in order in the seventh and final frame.
“Jayden got the go-ahead hit (in a four-run sixth inning) and then came out and closed the game for us as well,” Sayej said.
First-place Bishop Tonnos finished the regular schedule with a 4-1 record, while Bishop Ryan, at 1-4, ended up fifth. The Titans and second-place St. Thomas More Knights then received a first-round bye while the Celtics won their quarter-final, 15-9, over the fourth-place St. John Henry Newman Cardinals.
“We played hard today all the way to the end,” Pavao said. “We came together with the hits when we were down to come out on top. We’ve had a great season.”
The Celtics jumped to a 5-0 semifinal lead, stringing together six hits in the third inning against starting pitcher Jack Smith. BR’s left-handed starting pitcher, Ty Robinson, led off with a single and that was followed by Jack McPhail’s RBI double. The uprising also featured hits by Isaiah Wiesner (single), Will Thompson (triple) and Jacob Clanfield (single).
Tonnos responded by erupting for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. After two consecutive hit-batsman and two straight walks, Evander D’Andrea plated three of those runners with a double. A bases-loaded walk and a single by Ronan D’Andrea accounted for the other two runs.
Shortstop Julian Sabourin chipped in with three singles for Tonnos.
“We showed that we can hit and we can come back,” Sayej said. “We’re a veteran team. We have a lot of Grade 12s.”
For the Celtics, Wiesner reached base all four times with three singles and a walk. Thompson added two triples and a double.
Last week’s other quarter-final winner was third-place St. Mary --- 10-4 over the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves. The Crusaders, Titans and Knights had all finished the regular schedule with 4-1 records.