Majors Victorious Over Baycats After Late Innings Battle
MIDHURST - The atmosphere and energy at Coates Stadium was electric.
The London Majors were in town, it was all set to be a hard-earned victory for whichever of the two teams came out on top on Saturday night. After nine innings, it was the first-place London Majors that walked away with this one in exactly that competitive way - they came from behind and scored seven in the ninth to beat the Barrie Baycats 13-10.
No one would use "hard-earned" lightly, either; the Majors had to get through a fantastic outing from Baycats starter Juan Benitez. The 29-year-old pitched extremely well all throughout his start, and made it into the eighth inning for the first time this season. Working with catcher Tyler Plumpton, the two were in sync all night.
The Majors are in first place for a reason, though, and Luke Kelley was out to prove that he’s a fit in their club’s rotation as the season comes to its final regular season games. Kelley was shaky early, hitting Barrie shortstop Marcel Lacasse with a pitch in the first inning. The 28-year-old lefty from North Carolina settled into things by mid-game though, and by the time he exited from his first IBL start, he, much like Benitez, could look back at the outing positively.
After that, it was all about which offense could figure out the bullpens more. The Baycats saw the ball very well off of Majors reliever Mike DeLong, scoring four. He only recorded one out.
Barrie also adjusted well to the next reliever, Jarryd Lund, who showcased a left-handed pitching delivery with a deceptive angle. A big bases-loaded walk from Jeff Cowan was followed by a single from Ryan Rijo, and the Baycats looked to be set.
The London Majors had other plans. The first-place squad showed why they’ve earned that name so far in 2021 with ninth inning that saw seven London batters cross the plate and score. That would be enough to win it for the visitors.
Barrie added one more of their own in the bottom of the ninth (a leadoff triple from Avery Tuck would be followed by a Branfy Infante double), but it was London that walked away with the win in the most competitive game Coates Stadium has seen this year.
BIGGEST PLAY OF THE GAME...
In the ninth, Hayden Jaco's two-out double scored two to make it 13-9 Majors. It would be the final scoring play in the huge late-game London rally.
COOLEST PLAY OF THE GAME...
There was a Ryan Rijo at-bat in there that was really impressive. Rijo, who has a fantastic batting eye (and a .460 on-base percentage), was facing new pitcher Jarryd Lund in the eighth inning. The nature of Lund’s unusual pitching delivery meant that every Baycats hitter who saw him had to take a couple of pitches to figure him out before proceeding. Rijo had missed a pitch he was close to hitting squarely in the first inning, so it was a great moment when he figured out Lund and smacked a two-RBI single into the outfield. To highlight three players, the batting strategies from Rijo, Jake Wilson, and Avery Tuck were extremely strong tonight.
BY THE NUMBERS...
10. The loss after a ten-run offensive effort will certainly sting, but there are definitely positives to work through as well. The offense really clicked well for the most part in front of the home crowd, and Avery Tuck had a massive game. The chants of “Let’s Go Avery” echoed from the stands as Tuck finished off a four-hit, three-run game.
2.70. Juan Benitez’ ERA through his eight starts. That's third in the IBL this year. Only Pedro De Los Santos (2.07 ERA) and Owen Boon (2.65) have lower ERA's among qualified starters. In a year that will bring intense playoff rounds, Benitez has the potential to be huge for the Baycats.
4. Brad Grieveson is fourth on that list with a 3.29 ERA.
4 (Again). Jake Wilson has four home runs on the year now, including one inside-the-park homer. He’s been a tremendous guy to have at the top of the Barrie batting order.
Toronto visits Barrie on Tuesday for their final regular season matchup. After that, it's Kitchener in town on Thursday. This weekend, the Baycats get their chance to rematch the Majors twice. Saturday's game is in Barrie, Sunday's is in London.
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Photo: Bob Hurley/Bob Hurley Photography