Cat Fight One-Sided: Ottawa leads series 2-0

The Ottawa Fat Cats beat the London Majors in the first round of the IBL playoffs. They did it with a combination of good pitching, fielding and hitting. The Cats found out who that they would be playing the Barrie Baycats in the next round, after the Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Burlington Twins in their series.

In order for the Fat Cats to beat the Baycats, they would have to take their play to an even higher level than they did vs. London. Barrie is a deeper team than London, so the pitching would have to be fantastic. If it wasn’t, than the batters would have to step up broadly.

Going into the series, the Fat Cats were well aware of who they were up against. They knew that Barrie was the IBL’s shining star from the beginning of the season. Whenever the Fat Cats played the Baycats, they brought everything that they had. This series would have to be be no different. The Fat Cats were looking to jump on the opportunity that they had. London underestimated them and payed the ultimate price. Ottawa thought that the Baycats would make that same mistake, according to an interview in the Ottawa Citizen.

I’m not exactly sure how, but the Baycats underestimated Ottawa to an unimaginable degree in the first 2 games of this series. After Game 1’s 2nd inning , it was 5-0 for the good guys. Adam Reynolds definitely couldn’t find his good arm, as he struggled to find the strike zone, or Lundberg’s glove behind the plate. Reynolds allowed 7 runs on 6 hits in 2 and a half innings. After Manager Roy finally went to his bullpen in the 3rd, it was 7-0.

Barrie battled back into the game, making it 7-6 into later stages. At this point, William Sebastian had been pulled and Josh Soffer had also been taken out in favor of Danny Desclouds. Fortunately, Desclouds was on his game. He picked up the save, as Ottawa managed to score 4 more times before the end of the game.

Once Reynolds was taken out of the game, the Baycats got on a bit of a roll. Ryan Dillabough didn’t allow more than one Fat Cat to get on base at a time, while Barrie’s bats got hot. We were lucky that Roy stupidly took Dillabough out of the game. Unless he was injured, I didn’t see the logic of taking him out, when he was the one who got his team back in the game.

Anyways, Dillabough left the game and soon after that, Danny Desclouds came in for Ottawa. After that and a few clutch plays from Ottawa offence to extend the lead to 4 runs; it was bye-bye, Barrie.

Baseball is a game of momentum. I think that this imaginary force caries more weight in this sport than it does in any other and this was pretty evident in Game 1. Ottawa had everything go their way in the first 2 innings and Barrie caught up a bit after that. Whatever Barrie had juiced up obviously wasn’t enough, though.

Barrie looked to start off much better for the second game. They had Frank Hare back in their lineup (he was at a wedding during game 1), and they started Brad Bissell, who is no slouch on the mound. Barrie wasn’t fooling around this time.

Or so we thought…

The start of Game 2 went the same way that Game 1’s did. Ottawa flew out of the gates, taking a 3-0 lead into Barrie’s half of the second. The Baycats got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd, and that managed to level things out. However, after another Barrie run scored in the 4th, their bats suddenly turned off. In the end, the Fat Cats took control of this series, winning the second game 7-2.

Brett Sabourin started for the Fat Cats. He played well for the first couple of innings, but once Barrie got on the board, his pitching became quite sporadic. I would find myself pulling my hair out watching the ball counter fill up on Pointstreak. At almost every at bat, Brett would pitch 3 or more balls. He walked 7 men in 7 innings, and only struck out 2 during that time. Ottawa’s D-men were having a great game, which lets Brett off the hook a little bit. Nelson finally went to the pen and found Josh Soffer to finish off the game from the 7th on.

Personally, I think that it took so long for Nelson to get Sabourin out of the game, because of the fact that we’re riding just 5 pitchers and one of them is not completely healthy. Soffer had also pitched the night before, so he couldn’t play for more than a quarter of the game. If you add the fact that Sabourin wasn’t really costing his team runs, then leaving him in wasn’t the end of the world.

On a positive note, I will give Brett credit for battling back into counts many times. Once you’ve got a 3-0 or 3-1 count to deal with, it’s hard to get back into it. Props to Mr. Sabourin for battling back on more than one occasion.

On the offensive end of the game, Barrie was not sharp at all at the plate. They only had 5 hits compared to Ottawa’s 11, and they couldn’t seem to pounce on opportunities given to them by the Fat Cats. Matt Logan had a good day, racking up 60% of Barrie’s offence, but other than that the Baycats were at bay (pun intended) on the sacks. Their last run was scored in the 4th, with 3 of their hits coming after the 4th.

Ottawa’s story was much different of the offensive side. LaDale Hayes was spectacular behind the plate, batting in 3 runs and scoring one of his own as well. I continue to be mesmerized by the timing of some of the Fat Cats players. Both of Hayes’ doubles came with men in scoring position, and Kevin Dietrich had a clutch bomb to the outfield as well. If this keeps up, and other familiar faces like Ricky Howroyd and Mark Charrette get in on this act, then the Fat Cats could have an easy time in these last few games of the series. Those men along with others on this team aren’t new to the clutch factor either. There has been many occasions where players like Charrette and Mombo had big hits/plays at the right time.

This weekend, the Fat Cats could finish off the Baycats, and advance to the finals in their first ever playoff run. To do so, they’ll have to be sharp and play like they’re the ones that are down 2 games to none. It won’t be easy, but the Baycats are missing the John Bell Memorial Trophy winner, Sean Reilly for game 3. They are also missing Frank Hare for the 3rd game of this series, another key asset of Barrie’s line-up.

Game 3 goes tonight at Ottawa Stadium at 7:05, while Game 4 is scheduled to take place tomorrow afternoon at 4 from the same place. I’ll have my derrière parked in an blue seat this weekend… will you?

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