Majors rally for two wins
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
The London Majors still have another full month to play in the Intercounty Baseball League regular season, but the team is already beginning to show signs of playoff prowess after a pair of tight wins in doubleheader action against the Barrie Baycats Sunday (June 24).
The Majors fought back in both the home battles coming from behind in the final innings to pull out 5-4 wins. (Doubleheaders play up to the seventh inning unless there’s extra innings)
“We settled down and we all stuck together,” said Cleveland Brownlee, leading off the Majors’ last innings in both games with a single, his only hits, going 2-for-7 with four strikeouts.
In the first game, London scored three runs in the sixth inning before Brownlee would complete the comeback in the seventh when the 6-foot-6 first baseman came crashing into Baycats’ catcher Mike Reeves.
“They (the Majors coaching staff) put up the stop sign, but once I got to moving there was no way to stop except to comeback (to third base),” Brownlee said. “I said, ‘If it’s a close play at the plate, we’ll just have to bang it out.”
In the second game, London found themselves down by two runs before the Majors’ rallied back with three hits capped off by third baseman Steve Froese bashing the ball and the leftfielder dropping the catch on the run for an error.
“You’re just trying to be aggressive, take good swings and I got something good to hit and you saw what happened. It wins games, I guess,” Froese said. “Working hard for that one run whenever you get it, whether it be the first inning or the last inning, it doesn’t really matter, but you have to get that one run up on them.”
Josh Palmer picked up the wins in both games pitching an inning in each and giving up nothing. Jordi Amargos started the first game on the mound, picking up three strikeouts, six hits and four runs over six innings of work, while Eric Cordova pitched for six innings as well in the second game, striking out six batters and giving up six hits for four runs.
The Majors’ should be used to these tight tilts. They’ve been in six games this season where the result has been within one point—second most in the league next to the Ottawa Fat Cats with eight. Ottawa has played 24 games, compared to London’s 19.
The latest pair of close games for the Majors’ might not only be the team’s best wins on the season so far, it could be the matchup they look back on before playoffs as a turning point.
“We had great pitching and great hitting at the end and it’s almost like we’re moving into playoff mode,” Brownlee said.
The key word from Majors’ home run leader is almost. The team still has 16 games on the season, but the doubleheader sweep pads London’s second-place lead to 2.5 games over the Fat Cats and drops the Baycats to the fourth spot.
“It’s a sprint this season, a short season—36 game season. So, positioning is important, you can’t afford to drop in any game,” said Majors co-owner/field manager Roop Chanderdat. “Especially if you want finish at the top of the league.”
London closes out a hot June on the road against first place Brantford Red Sox Monday (June 25) before coming back home to play the basement-dwelling Hamilton Cardinals Tuesday (June 26). The Majors are 8-2 this month.
“Without even the coaches bringing it up, the guys are talking behind the scenes about our team coming together, guys finding their place in the lineup and kind of knowing their role,” Froese said. “We got the guys and winning games like this is what you need to gain confidence in your teammates.”
Sidenote: Former major league left-hander Mike Kilkenny, who led the London Majors to the Intercounty Baseball League championship in 1975, had his jersey retired during the seventh annual Oldtimers Day celebration at Labatt Park inbetween games.
-The Barkery, a healthy bakery for dogs, held its Dogs Days of Summer Doubleheader where fans were encouraged to bring their dogs out to the games for free dog treats and good baseball.