Castaldo Does it Again as Baycats Keep Pennant Hopes Alive

by Ryan Eakin

BARRIE - 9-7 in the bottom of the eighth inning -- with the bases loaded and two out -- Baycats left fielder Jordan Castaldo stepped up to the plate.

With the crowd roaring, Baycats statistician Tim Clark turned to Mike Clark -- the PA Announcer for the Baycats -- and myself and said: "Castaldo is hitting a home run here."

Baycats general and field manager Angus Roy, coaching third base, said the exact same thing to Baycats shortstop Conner Morro, who was standing at third base.

He did not hit a home run, but he hit a bases-clearing double to not only give the Baycats a 10-9 lead but to all but secure himself the triple crown.

It is what longtime observers of the Baycats have come to expect from Castaldo.

An immensely talented hitter capable of playing both the infield and outfield corner spots, Castaldo has delivered in the clutch like no other Baycat ever has.

He is to this team what Lee Delfino was to the 2008 to 2013 Brantford Red Sox.

"I told Morro at third base that he is going to give us the lead," said Roy postgame. "Soon as he came to the dish I looked at Morro and said 'he is going to give us the lead.'

"Morro said back to me 'you are calling it?' as if he thought I was calling a grand slam, but I just knew that someway, somehow, he was going to give us the lead.

"He has done it so many times for us, and he has done it in way bigger moments than this one. It is cool considering what was on the line for him personally and for us as a team, because listen, we are still fighting for first place.

"So there was a team goal to it and there was a personal goal to it. It was a fantastic swing and he deserves it. He has had a monster year. He has been the best player in the league by far the entire year and for him to end it like this, assuming no one else does anything amazing this weekend to spoil it."

Castaldo said when he stepped up to the batter's box, he wasn't thinking of the triple crown.

"It is one of those things that you and everyone else kept bringing to my attention," said Castaldo. "Atkinson hits that two run double in the first inning and it's like 'here we go,' right? But I was just trying to put a good swing on something with the score being what it was.

"And to be honest with you, I was able to block everything out for a moment there. Just focused in.

"Their guy surprised me with the first pitch he threw, he was a bit quicker than I thought; threw a good curveball.

"The rest after that is history."

With the Toronto Maple Leafs defeating the Kitchener Panthers tonight, the Baycats knew heading into the bottom of the eighth inning that their magic number to at least force a one-game playoff against the Panthers was at one.

They rallied, and their magic number does now indeed sit at one.

Roy says he considers this regular season a success no matter what happens from here on out.

"I am committed to the end goal," said Roy. "The end goal is trying to win a championship.

"I don't ever try to lose a game on purpose, but I said it all along, I am not extending anybody to win a regular-season game when it the grand schemes of things it means absolutely nothing.

"We are trying to win the pennant, and we are trying to win every night, but like, Santos [Arias] didn't pitch last night because he was tired. He came to me and said 'I feel tired.'

"So I am not going to throw a guy who says 'tired,' out for a regular-season game in Welland or Brantford, because when you do that, something else bad happens.

"I always talking about the process and the only game all season long that I regret is the night in Guelph when Santos threw all of those pitches.

"I regret that night, but other than that, I think we did a good job all regular season long at playing everybody and keeping them healthy."