Thrilling finale caps off a split weekend
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.