Brawl, Comeback highlight a captivating weekend

I picked quite the weekend to miss.

The Kitchener Panthers visited Ottawa Stadium this past weekend. The Panthers have been known to be an exciting and offensive team in the past couple of seasons, playing out of the home-run mecca in Jack Couch Park. Ottawa Stadium is a very different place, but the Panthers and Fat Cats still found a way to entertain the crowd. It may not have been what people expected, but they were still very much entertained.

I don’t know what was on the mind of Lee Witmer at the time, but after Jason Coker came in to score for the Fat Cats, bowling over KIT catcher Ben Kangas in the process, Witmer went and tagged Coker after retrieving the ball from behind Kangas while Coker was on his way down the Ottawa dugout steps. Chirping ensued between Witmer and the Ottawa players, and the bench-clearing brawl broke out.

If Lee Witmer was in the same room as me right now, I would definitely want to ask him what his thought process was. Was he actually unaware that Coker was safe at home? I severely doubt that. I would assume that he was pissed at Coker for wrecking his catcher, and rightfully so. I’d be pretty ticked off if that happened as well.

Nevertheless, the IBL is great for this kind of thrilling stuff. I’ve seen 2 bench-clearers in the 3 year history of this team and I can’t think of any affiliated teams that can lay claim to that (if any of you know of one, enlighten me!). People can think what they want about violence in sports, but crowds love this kind of thing.

The brawl wasn’t the only thing that got the Ottawa Stadium crowd on its feet this weekend. The first couple innings in the rubber game of this series were pretty brutal for the Fat Cats. Kitchener was allowed to put up a 7-spot in the 4th.

Down 9-3 going in to the bottom of the 9th, I wasn’t exactly calling the comeback. I was thinking in my head and aloud on twitter (follow me!) that the boys just didn’t have it in them today.

I guess I’ve been watching too many NHL playoff games, where it appears that it if you go down 2 goals, the game is over. I forgot the golden rule of IBL baseball: no lead is safe.

Just like that, everything turned around. The heart of the order in Hayes, Dietrich, Huffman and Coker got things rolling and before long all the momentum had changed direction in a matter of minutes.

Taking the game to extras after being down 8-0 is quite the accomplishment for this team, or any team in any league for that matter. While we didn’t come out with the win, we definitely showed a couple things to build on going in to this weekend’s Guelph series.

Pat Gagnon stepped in for Chad Brisebois part way through the Victoria Day game, and impressed me in his debut as a Fat Cat. In 3 plate appearances he went 1 for 1 with 2 BBs, coming up with some big plays when he needed to. I figured that Gagnon would just be another spare part, but he surprised me with his performance Monday.  I think he more than definitely deserves another look this coming weekend.

Eitan Maoz had a gigantic impact in his first few games with the team this season. He’s a great guy to have and I think that him being absent for the first few games of this season hurt the Cats in depth. Maoz is a utility guy who can play almost anywhere, making his rounds through the infield last weekend.

He had a clutch double in the bottom of the 12th which set up another comeback for the Fat Cats in that same inning. This one ultimately fell short; but a 2B hit with 2 outs and your team’s back against the wall shows the kind of leadership that he has.

Pitching was a hit and miss once again. I originally was confident in having Major on the mound, because of his solid debut, but he can’t find any consistency it seems. He only lasted 2 and a half innings on Saturday, and even then I think that he was left in the game for too long. I really don’t know what to think of him at this point.

Hummel’s numbers are a bit all over the place. He was on the mound during that disastrous 4th inning on Monday, but he also posted 5 Ks, which is the most out of any of the Fat Cat pitchers from the weekend besides Huffman. I wouldn’t mind a scouting report on Hummel from any of you, if you have time.

Speaking of Brandon Huffman, he was dynamite as always. He posted another 10 strikeouts to take a commanding league lead in that category. He batted in the DH slot for the rest of the weekend, with 3 hits in 10 plate appearances, also posting an RBI on Monday.

Soffer’s stats weren’t as pretty as Huffman’s, but according to Andrew Denny on twitter, he had a sound performance on Tuesday, as well as William Sebastian on Sunday. As the season goes on, it appears that Soffer is settling in. Hopefully this trend continues, because we know what he can do up there when he’s on his game.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m excited to finally get out to Ottawa Stadium on the weekend when we host Guelph. They’ll be looking for some revenge for sure after Ottawa spoiled their home opening party at Hastings Stadium with a 5-4 win back on the 5th of May.

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