Fat Cats Down Baycats, Start Emergence as a Contender
The 2011 IBL Schedule hasn’t been very forgiving for the Ottawa Fat Cats as of late. Last weekend, the Cats took on the London Majors, who only had 4 losses headed into that weekend’s series against the Fat Cats. The Cats didn’t only handle the Majors, but we swept them. Would the highly ranked Barrie Baycats suffer the same fate at the hands of Ottawa this past weekend? Or would Ottawa implode?
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from the Fat Cats this weekend. The turnaround that the Fat Cats have had in these past weeks have definitely made teams more aware of Ottawa than they ever have been before, but would this be a true evolution for this team? In my mind, this weekend decided whether the Fat Cats would stay at the bottom tire of the league, or pick it up and join the Red Sox and Majors near the top.
On Friday, Barrie and Ottawa started off in a defensive battle, going 5 full innings without scoring a single run. In the 6th Inning, the bomb went off. The 2 teams would explode for a total of 9 runs.
The Baycats kicked it off with 4 runs in the top of the Inning, but the Fat Cats showed resiliency and scored 5 runs of their own to take the lead for the 1st time in the game. The Cats got through all 9 batters in their order in the bottom of the Inning. Eitan Maoz added an insurance run in the 7th, allowing relief pitcher Josh Soffer to step in and gain the win in a thriller that took all 9 Innings. Fat Cats fans definitely got their money’s worth on Canada Day.
After the Friday win, the Cats went into Saturday with a 3-game winning streak. Barrie wasn’t happy with their loss a day earlier and you could tell that they set out on Saturday to send a message. Not only did the Baycats start strong, but the Fat Cats looking slightly sluggish on the field. After the first 3 innings of the game, it was 5-1 Barrie. The 3rd Inning was one that the Fat Cats had trouble getting out of, with the Baycats scoring 3 runs. William Sebastian seemed to struggle on the mound, but that may be due to the lack of playing time that Sebastian has been able to take. I’m sure he’ll be back to his regular self after he shakes a bit of the rust off.
As the game started to enter it’s later stages, the Fat Cats came on. In the 6th Inning, it looked like the fielders had a little bit more of a jump in their step and the batters were looking more into it.
In the 7th, P Brett Sabourin only had to throw 5 pitches to retire the 3 Baycats batters. Then, the climax hit.
The Fat Cats had 6 hits, and all 6 of them came in to score. What was a 6-1 lead for the Baycats had turned into a 7-6 barn-burning showdown led by the Fat Cats. Both Rick Howroyd and Joe Stone had 2-RBIs, in an Inning that sent the 2,086 fans at Ottawa Stadium into a frenzy. However, the Baycats were not done. In the top of the 9th, Frank Hare brought Ryan Spataro home from first to tie the game, and then the game-winner was harpooned through an infield hole by Sean Reilly. The game ended with LaDale Hayes getting caught stealing with 2 outs. 8-7 was the final score with Chris England getting the win for Barrie, and Josh Soffer taking the loss for the Cats.
Sunday’s affair was much more even, and didn’t involve as many momentum shifts as Saturday did. The game was a stalemate for all of the regulation innings, with both teams being tied for much of the game. Danny Desclouds’ pitching was fairly sporadic, but he still backstopped the Fat Cats into the 7th Inning. Tyler Durward was quickly on and off of the mound, and Brett Sabourin pitched for the 2nd day in a row, handling the extra innings for the Fat Cats.
In the bottom of the 11th Inning, Cody Mombourquette brought Matt McGovern in with a Sac Fly, to win the game 5-4. A great win for Ottawa, that was highlighted by Cody Mombourquette’s consistency and Rick Howroyd’s timely hitting (Rogers TV colour commentator Brett Jewitt referred to Howroyd as “Mr. Automatic” frequently).
A valiant effort from the Fat Cats this weekend got the entire city on notice, and once again ignited the fire in the fans that was buried years ago when the Lynx lost steam. I haven’t heard the baseball fans here in Ottawa be this loud in a very long time. It’s more proof that the Fat Cats have something going for them that the Lynx (1997-2007) and the Rapidz never had.
It was also announced over the loudspeaker on Saturday night that the Fat Cats have passed last year’s total attendance, already bringing in 29,069 fans over this season, with games to spare. Baseball is alive and well in Ottawa, as proven this weekend. This trend will only go in the right direction if the Fat Cats continue their hike up the IBL standings. Remember, it’s been a long time since Ottawa has had a decent baseball team. As a wise man once said: “Winning is everything”, and that’s what Ottawa has been doing lately.