by Sam Aucoin

BARRIE — Where do you even start with this game? A 7-4 Baycats comeback victory that was ignited by a five-run eighth inning. Down 4-2 heading into that inning, Barrie got big hit after big hit. It was Avery Tuck, Branfy Infante, and Starlin Rodriguez all coming up clutch for their team, bringing the crowd to its feet.

"To come out and help the team (like) how I did today, it was a great team win, and we’re going to keep it rolling," said Tuck, who drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. He also made a spectacular catch to end the top half of the eighth. Avery also, along with some of his teammates, commented on how awesome the fans at Vintage Throne Stadium were in support of the Baycats.

"We were loving it, we couldn’t get enough of it," Tuck said. "We were down a little bit, energy was a little slow, and hearing the fans get into it, it just boosted us."

"The crowd is great, they’ve been great all season," said Baycats center fielder Canice Ejoh. Ejoh scored the first run of the game thanks to a Ryan Rijo RBI single in the first inning. Rijo picked up a pair of hits along with a walk.

"When one team punches us, we seem to punch them back," Rijo said. "That’s the identity of us we never give up." The Baycats certainly did not give up, especially starter Juan Benítez. Benítez was terrific today, pitching seven and two-thirds and holding the Panthers to four runs. As a result of a late comeback victory, Brad Grieveson picked up the win, his second of the playoffs.

The top half of the eighth inning presented an opportunity for Baycats manager Josh Matlow to get the crowd and his team going. After Liam Wilson and Raul Gonzalez were hit by pitches that, to almost everyone in the park thought were questionable calls, the skipper showed his frustrations in order to get his players pumped up.

Well, it just sparks up the crowd, it sparks up the boys (his players), I did it last year, it worked, and I thought, we’re sitting in a tight ballgame, someone’s got to do it—it was just the right time," said Matlow. He also spoke about the great pitching that was displayed in the game, not only for Barrie, but for Kitchener as well.

"Great pitcher, throws a lot of strikes, works quick," he said, referring to Panthers starter Yamichel Perez. Perez threw five and two-thirds innings, giving up just two earned runs and striking out eight hitters. It was Jose Vasquez who was charged with the loss, as the right-hander worked an inning and a third.

NEXT UP: A chance to win the series and punch a ticket to the IBL finals. Game three is Tuesday in Kitchener. The first pitch is at 7:30 p.m. from Jack Couch Park. You can watch the game live on the Panthers' YouTube channel or buy tickets here.