Ottawa Stumbles; Leafs, Panthers pull ahead
Going into this weekend, the Fat Cats had won their last 3 series’. Brantford, Barrie and London were all victims of the Fat Cats in their latest charge and after the Fat Cats tore through the best teams in the league, the fans and the other teams have started to take notice, and refer to this team as a threat. It’s amazing how far this team has come, and even though this weekend didn’t turn out that well, I’m still proud of our boys in red.
Heading in to these next contests, the Fat Cats were in 6th place. Ottawa could’ve ended up solely in 4th place by the end of the 5 games that they played had they come out with wins where they had to.
Heading into Brantford on Friday night, the Cats played their first road game since the 16 inning marathon against–guess who–the Red Sox. It was a close game headed into the 4th, however that all changed when Ottawa put up an impressive 4 runs, to take a 7-2 lead. Brantford wouldn’t get close after that, as the Fat Cats win the game by a score of 10-4.
The Cats played a very offensive game against the Sox. All 9 members of the batting order had at least a hit, and 5 of the Cats recorded 2 hits. Cody Mombourquette and Mark Charrette were very impressive. While the score was 7-4, Charrette made a great catch in the infield as he was falling, to end the 7th inning. Had he dropped that, there were 2 runners in scoring position for Brantford who both would’ve scored. A game-saving catch by Charrette, and a dandy at that.
Moving onto Saturday, the Fat Cats could get back to .500 with 2 wins, however the IBL schedulers didn’t give the Fat Cats a break. The Fat Cats had to play a doubleheader in 2 different towns. Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium in Hamilton played host to the first game, while the second would be played in London.
In Hamilton, the Thunderbirds have only won 5 games all season. It would be interesting to see how the Fat Cats would approach Hamilton. That question would be answered quickly.
The Cats exploded early, with 4 runs in the first 4 innings and would not stop there. Until the 8th inning the Fat Cats dominated, scoring 9 runs, and leading the game 9-0. In the 8th, starting pitcher Matt McGovern was pulled, after shutting out the Thunderbirds, and only allowing 2 hits for his 7 innings pitched. He pitched phenomenally.
Ottawa’s relief pitchers would almost cost them the game, as Kevin Gamble (who has an 81.08 ERA after his disastrous inning) allowed 3 runs on 2 hits, in one tenth of an inning. Tyler Durward came in relief for the reliever, and allowed 4 hits of his own and another 3 runs in almost 2 innings. Thankfully, the Cats’ clawed their way out of the last 2 innings, to win 9-6. A scary few moments toward the end of the game, though.
After Hamilton, Ottawa hopped back on their luxury bus, and made their way to London to face the Majors at Labatt Park. If the Fat Cats won this game, they would finally make some progress in their recent hot streak and tie the Toronto Maple Leafs for 5th place in the IBL standings.
Unfortunately, it looked like the drive from Hamilton to London took it’s toll on the Fat Cats. London got out to a quick start, getting out to a 5-0 lead early in the game. Ottawa would score 2 runs of their own, and the score would stay at 5-2 until the top of the 7th. In that inning, London ran into some trouble on the mound, where Ryan Hart was struggling to throw strikes. This allowed Ottawa to get back in the game, cutting the lead down to 5-4. Mike Mitro came onto the mound for Hart, however, and struckout 3 batters in just 2 innings. One little note, there was one strikeout in the 9th that very obviously should have been a walk (the count was 3-2 when the Ump made his mistake), but the called strike would give the Majors their 2nd out, and they would win the game 6-4.
William Sebatian took the loss for Ottawa, but pitched a very good 8 innings. IBL commissioner Joe O’neill was the colour commentator for the game on Rogers TV, and he said that Sebastian was the better starting pitcher on the night. At the plate, Matt McGovern had a home run, and another hit. He played very well on Saturday night for the Fat Cats, and was also solid in the field at first base. McGovern seems to have found himself once again. He was the best player on Ottawa for the entirety of this road trip.
Today, the Fat Cats had a very important series to deal with. They would play the Kitchener Panthers in a doubleheader at Jack Couch Park. This was the 2nd day in a row where Ottawa was forced to play 2 games in one day. Ottawa would also have to keep an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard, as if the Maple Leafs struggled against Brantford, Ottawa would have an opportunity to pass them with a sweep versus Kitchener. The Cats would also pull into a tie for 4th with the Panthers if they swept the doubleheader.
It’s too bad we let that opportunity go down the drain.
Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. The Panthers beat us 12-0, and the Leafs won 18-1. Ottawa had 4 errors in the field. Pitching and fielding, our 2 weaknesses from the inaugural season, came back to bite us in the ass during game 1 of this doubleheader. Eitan Maoz had 2 hits for Ottawa, but they both didn’t count for much more on the scoreboard. The Panthers played fantastically, and obviously meant business, while it seemed like the Fat Cats were just anxious to return home.
“Not so fast!” said Kitchener. Ottawa still had one game to play in this doubleheader. While the Fat Cats did scoop up another loss, they didn’t get blown out as badly as the first game. 11-7 was the final score, with Ottawa giving the Panthers a bit more of a run for their money.
At one point in the 4th the game was tied at 2, however the Panthers would aggrandize in the bottom of that inning for 6 runs, including a grand slam by Shaun Valeriote, to take an 8-2 lead. They wouldn’t give that lead up, as the Fat Cats would drop their 3rd straight.
All things considered, this road trip was definitely a fail for the Fat Cats. They could have been all alone in 4th had the week gone a little better for them. Instead we’re still stuck in 6th place, with no signs of advancing any higher in the standings.
The one thing that I’m really beginning to worry about is pitching. For these last few weeks, the Cats have rotated Soffer, Desclouds, McGovern, Sebastian and Sabourin as both starters and relievers. When we tried to go deep into the pitching staff, that reeeeeeally backfired. I’m going to be blunt about it, pitchers like Durward and Gamble are not good enough to be legitimate relievers. They’re just simply not good enough. Heading into the playoffs, if our 5 main guys and maybe Hayes can be ready to play on the mound during the playoffs and stay healthy, I’m not worried, however our depth may be a problem.
One thing that should be considered, and possibly be contributed to the Fat Cats’ recent success and failure, is where games are being played. While this team was hot, we played the majority of our games at home. While we did defeat Brantford, the net really came off of it’s moorings after the Hamilton game. I think the fatigue factor eventually proved too much. We needed to get home. This as well, may be a factor in the playoffs. Too many 8 hour bus rides isn’t a good thing.
Once we return to Ottawa Stadium, we should get back on our feet. It’ll definitely be a very interesting weekend as the T-Birds come to town, and the regular season draws to a close.
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