TORONTO have one mitt on their second straight minor premiership after beating second-placed Belmont 8-7 at Windsor Park on Saturday.
The hard-fought victory and Sunday’s 15-2 thumping of White Sox at Plattsburg Park gives the Tigers a 2-game break.
Both teams have three games left in the regular season and Toronto only need a win and a draw to secure top spot. The two teams will meet in the final round but by then home-ground advantage for the following week’s major semi-final will most likely already be decided.
Toronto are still searching for their maiden top-grade premiership and have lost two of the past three deciders to Belmont, who have won seven straight. But in Saturday’s game they showed the sort of fight which could break their title drought, overcoming a sluggish start.
Belmont shot out to a 7-0 lead after three innings thanks to some good hitting from Adam Blight, Chris Hook, Matt Ireland and Jake Amos.
In the same period Toronto could manage only one base runner as Tim Cox took control on the mound.
Paul Anderson relieved him in the fourth and the Tigers found his pitching more to their liking. Some strong hits from Moko Moanaroa and Michael Campbell and five Belmont infield errors allowed Toronto to plate seven runs.
The next three half innings were scoreless and time was fast running out in the two-hour game as Boss Moanaroa stepped up to the plate with two out and a runner at first in the top of the sixth.
Moanaroa hit a high fly ball to left field for what appeared to be a simple out, but the left fielder misread the catch. Adam Howe ran on the hit and made the most of the error to scamper home.
Toronto declared their innings straight away in order to go for the win.
Belmont managed two strong shots to left centre but Campbell caught them both to squash Belmont’s hopes of a late rally.
Boss Moanaroa threw most of the game for Toronto after relieving Kurt Eden in the first inning. The further the game went the better the regular first baseman got on the mound.
Third-placed Phoenix Charlestown kept pace with the top two courtesy of a 4-0 shutout of Boomerangs at Stevenson Park on Sunday. Phoenix are an outside chance of overtaking Belmont but would need to win their final two games, starting with Sunday’s home game against Toronto, and have other results go their way.
The battle for fourth will most likely go down to the wire with Boomerangs and Sox facing off twice in the next three weeks.
Sox host Boomers in the final Saturday game of the regular season before returning to Plattsburg Park the next day to play Belmont.