CRANFORD - Andrew Toto's first chance came at the Last Dance, and he made the most of it.
Toto pitched a five-inning one-hitter as Cranford shutout Linden, 10-0, on Day 1 of the NJ Last Dance High School World Series. With the win, Cranford takes on Union Catholic on Wednesday, and is two wins away from advancing to the North Region Sweet 16.
"It felt great," said Toto of his first career varsity start. "Defense was great behind me. We worked our butts off and really put in the work in the offseason. I don't think we could have done anything better today. We want to win it all."
Cranford jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning and never looked back. The Cougars would add two more in the third and four more in the fifth to reach the 10-run Mercy Rule. Aiden Plick drove-in Cranford's final two runs with a triple to right field.
"It was great to be back with all the kids we grew up with," said Plick. "I've been playing with most of the same guys since we were eight years old, so to be able to be back out here with one last chance is awesome."
Plick, a three-sport senior, lost out on not just the canceled spring sports season, but also missed all but two weeks of the winter hockey season with an injury suffered during the fall football season.
"We did a great job in the field, had productive at bats all game, and we were able to make it a quick one," said Plick.