Thrilling finale caps off a split weekend

Ottawa celebrates LaDale Hayes’ game-winning run in the Sunday rubber match of the Barrie series

There were a couple things that I wanted to see improved on going into this weekend, but I knew that it would be a challenge. The Barrie Baycats are, in my opinion, the best team in the IBL and I figured Toronto would give the Fat Cats a challenge as well considering that they’re battling for a playoff spot with Burlington and Hamilton and are a better team than their record would indicate. Tack on that there were 4 games in one weekend for this Fat Cats team and one could make a case for this being the toughest weekend of the season so far.

The split that the Cats would earn is one that I’m very happy with, considering the circumstances. It’s also tough to win just one game against the Barrie Baycats, as they have crafty and experienced hitters along with defense with a lot of upside.

Now, it’s not like we completely blew out the Baycats. It came down to the final play of the game—bottom 9, 2 outs— when LaDale Hayes slid between the legs of Barrie catcher Mike Reeves (Reeves played that terribly) and safely into home to win the game 3-2 walk-off style. If there was a roof on Ottawa Stadium, it would still be in the stratosphere.

In fact, while there weren’t many runs scored, the Ottawa Stadium crowd of about 4,000 had a lot to cheer about during the rubber match of this series, including some heroics in the outfield.

LaDale Hayes had the play of the year with an acrobatic diving catch to thwart the Baycats efforts in the 4th inning. It wasn’t looking good for the Fat Cats at that point as there was just 1 man away and Barrie had 2 on, but Hayes came up with that dandy in left-centre to kill the Baycats’ momentum.

However, it was only the play of the year for a few minutes. Wade Wilson ended the 8th inning with an unbelievable diving grab of his own. I classify this catch as a bigger one, because of the implications that a double to right would’ve had at that point. It was 2-0 Barrie and there were men on the corners. Had the ball landed, the game would’ve potentially been put out of reach.

It was those kinds of defensive efforts that won the game for the Fat Cats, along with good relief pitching from James Amelotte (welcome to Ottawa) who earned his first IBL win. Matt Hummel also had a respectable outing for Ottawa, posting 6 Ks and keeping the explosive Baycats offense to just 2 runs.

It was the same story for the Fat Cats two nights earlier vs Toronto. Aside from one hiccup from Jason Coker in the 8th, there were no fielding errors which made for some great defense by the Fat Cats. Huffman was the starting pitcher, which pretty much explains itself.  He did get himself in a jam during the 5th inning, but alas, nobody’s perfect. MacDonald-Wilson and Soffer did a great job in relief regardless.

Another pleasing thing I found from the Toronto game was the hitting. Mark Charrette absolutely exploded going 4/4, Coker had 3 hits and many others had 2 (Maoz, Hayes, McGovern, Stone). Ironically, Mombo and Dietrich were the only ones without a hit from the game. Funny how those things work.

Going back to the topic of Mark Charrette, he has been outstanding as of late. His stats are already succeeding his numbers from last year’s playoffs, despite playing 3 less games so far than in last year’s championship run.

He’s on pace to almost double his amount of walks, his batting average is at .317 as opposed to his career average of .274 and his on-base percentage is a whopping .500. If he keeps trending upwards like this, it spells good things for the Fat Cats.

Both losses this weekend came from the 2 Saturday games. It’s what I expected, especially in game number 2 of the day. However, we got blown out by the Maple Leafs in the matinee game.

Reasoning behind this is pitching. The Leafs only managed 9 hits to our 8, so the play at the dish was pretty much even. The difference is that Sebastian, Amelotte and Boisvert combined walked 9 batters. That simply can’t happen against any team in the IBL, because they’ll make you pay.

Aside from that, I liked the play from the Fat Cats this weekend. Flashes of last year’s playoff run from guys like McGovern and Hayes shone through, and the defense appears to be getting better by the game.

Hopefully the positive strides can continue, as the Fat Cats will need it going into a lengthy 6-game road trip before coming home to the Burlington Twins on the weekend of the 23rd for a 3-game series at Ottawa Stadium.

    • Len Hannam
    • June 12th, 2012

    Did Brantford withdraw from the league? 4 championships in a row, 5 in 6 years and currently in 1st place! I would consider them to be the team to beat!

    • They’re definitely very close. I think Barrie has an edge though… I saw more from them this weekend then what I saw in the championship series from Brantford last year. More power, better D, etc… also, the Sox are currently in first, but Barrie sits just .5 games back. They could get passed given the right circumstances.

      Although I guess I can’t really make an informed decision without seeing both teams play.

      Either way, BFD is making a case for themselves right now, blowing Guelph out of the water 15-1 in the 7th!

    • Pierre
    • June 13th, 2012

    I don’t know if this was the toughest weekend of the year but I think this week is going to be the most important. Six game in five days on the road.

    In a way, this could be good for the players. Baseball is a game that needs to be played every day. It could help bring a lot of the cobwebs out and the next five days could help do just that. It will be tough, especially on Saturday playing two games in two different cities.

    A big question is who is going to show up. It will make it much tougher if three or four guys don’t make the trip. Another big question is, what’s wrong with some players? LaDale is not at all the hitter he was last year. Being dropped to seventh is a hint he may have something physically wrong with him. Same with McGovern. I know he’s hurt physically, why he’s not pitching, and losing his father recently certainly hasn’t helped.

    Wade Wilson is our best player and it would be a travesty if he stays in the ninth spot for much longer. Mombo is back to 2010 hitting form but degraded defensively. Coker is just as bad at short (he’s really a third baseman). Dietrich has lost power.

    The starting pitching is the reason for the Cats being where they are. Huffman, what can I say? Same with Hummel. New guy Amelotte looks good. Sabourin has not done that bad. Sebastien had two bad games, great in all other games. I think he’ll be OK from now on. The biggest problem has been control: too many walks, hit batters and wild pitches.

    We may see LaDale pitch this week although probably as a reliever but would have been smarter to have him pitch some before and maybe have him start a game this week.

    It will be interesting how they handle this coming week.

    • “It will be tough, especially on Saturday playing two games in two different cities.”

      It’s really too bad that the schedule has to be the way it is – it’s tough being so far from the other teams in a bus league like this. The schedule is one of the main reasons that I hope the IBL can expand to the east at some point soon.

      “Wade Wilson is our best player and it would be a travesty if he stays in the ninth spot for much longer. Mombo is back to 2010 hitting form but degraded defensively. Coker is just as bad at short (he’s really a third baseman). Dietrich has lost power.”

      I agree on Wilson.. Maoz gives him a run for his money, but they have they’re own areas where they excel. I noticed Mombo’s streak of errors lately as well, which is a bit concerning. His play at the plate is better than last years, but his numbers still aren’t up to those of 2010, I remember his avg being in the 400s back then. Either way, he’s still an impressive player… my favourite, haha.

      What’s your take on Charrette so far?

    • Jerry
    • June 13th, 2012

    Great work – keep up the recaps! 4,000 for the game too terrific

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jerry. They were actually expecting more than 4,000 on the Sunday as they gave out more tickets than that.. still a great crowd, though. Good to see so many people at the ballpark!

    • Pierre
    • June 13th, 2012

    One thing you got to know about me is my trust in the sabermetrics stats. If you look at Charrette, I think you are looking simply at batting average and seeing he’s over 300. His OBP is good too and kudos to him for that. His OPS is high as well but inflated by his average and OBP. I never liked OPS because it counts hits twice, even thought it has a strong correlation to runs scored at the team level, slightly better than secondary average. None of the hitters have a good SecAvg except Coker and Barclay (only 4 games). It should be more than your average.

    I thought Wilson to be good just looking at his doubles. His slugging is good but his SecAvg is low (not enough walks).

    Maybe Charrette should lead-off as he gets on base although Maoz is much better but I don’t think it will last, not at that clip. Put Wilson second, Coker third and playing third. Mombo could be fourth and DH. Then Hayes, Huffman, Dietrich, and McGovern. Actually, put Hayes in ninth so when he does get on base, at least you got speed with the top of the lineup coming up. In my lineup with Coker at third, Charrette would have to play short and Latimer second meaning McGovern is on the bench, except when Huffman pitches.

    • You’ll have to excuse me in my lack of knowledge when it comes to sabermetrics. Since I’m a relatively new baseball fan, I’m still learning about them. Doing so will be one of my summer projects this year, haha.

    • Pierre
    • June 14th, 2012

    Sabermetrics starts and basically ends with Bill James although there are maybe one or two like Voros McCracken and Canadian Tom Tango. James’ 1980s Abstracts were great reads. His stuff is what Moneyball is about and he now works for the Red Sox, Boston that is.

    Just saw Fat Cats winning 8-1 tonight with Amelotte pitching 8 innings. Good move by Nelson. I guess Huffman goes tomorrow against the stronger Baycats and maybe on Sunday against Kitchener but that may be asking for too much. Likely Hammel on Friday, Sabourin and Sebastien on Saturday.

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