Majors slide to 3-0 series deficit
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
The London Majors will need strong defense, early runs and some clutch hitting — something they’ve been missing for the most part in the first round of their Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) playoffs — if they want to claw themselves out of a 3-0 hole against the Kitchener Panthers.
The Majors were hoping to bounce back Tuesday (July 31) at Labatt Memorial Park after a pair of weekend losses (July 28 and 29) to open the best-of-seven series, but the rally caps couldn’t be squeezed on for the home team, falling 6-5.
London still hasn’t held a lead in a game against the Panthers since the postseason started, but had their best chance in the second inning of Tuesday’s matchup with the bases loaded and only one out.
A Steve Froese strike out and Byron Reichstein pop up left the game scoreless for the Majors, unable to capitalize when they needed it most — a playoff plague this year for London.
“Early innings cost us. Bases loaded and you don’t come away with anything,” said Majors’ co-owner/field manager Roop Chanderdat. “We came into the game with one hit in like 16 at-bats with runners at second or third and they had like 10 hits in the same (stretch).”
The IBL’s seventh-place team took advantage of the second-spot Majors empty inning and rallied off five runs in the third inning with some help from two errors by London—giving the Majors six faults in three games. Of the 23 runs given up by the Majors, 18 of them have been earned.
“A couple of errors really cost us,” Chanderdat said. “When I say errors, I don’t know if some of them were called errors. We didn’t field bunts cleanly. That was the difference in the game.”
The Majors didn’t give up, though. Home runs by Froese and Tyler Carr helped contribute to cut the lead to 6-5 going into the ninth inning.
Chris Stewart led off the final frame getting beaned and maybe the most questionable call to fans wasn’t a missed strike by the home plate umpire, instead it was Majors' management calling on regular season home run team leader Cleveland Brownlee to bunt to move Stewart to second base.
The game plan of small ball backfired with Brownlee popping out in foul territory.
“I don’t know what coach doesn’t bunt. You’re down one run. If he strikes out or hits into a double play, what’s everyone asking me? ‘Why the hell didn’t you bunt?’” Chanderdat said. “It’s baseball. If there’s a runner on first base, you’re moving him over. It’s not like we’re going to our number nine hitter. We’re going to our number five and six hitter, (Chris) Chambers and (Paul) LaMantia.”
The Majors’ will be looking to avoid the playoff sweep and keep their playoff livelihood going in game five against the Panthers in Kitchener at Jack Couch Park Thursday (Aug. 2).
“Everyone wants to get up there and get the clutch hit to start the rally, but in baseball you can’t force things to happen. You have to go out there, play hard and hope to get a couple bounces,” said London shortstop Allen Cattrysse. “We have nothing to lose now, so we just have to put it all out there.”
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