St. Kitts Fantastic as Baycats Comeback Again to Defeat Panthers in Game Two

by Ryan Eakin

KITCHENER - Two to go.

The Barrie Baycats came back to defeat the Kitchener Panthers 6-4 on Thursday evening to take a 2-0 series lead in their best-of-seven league championship series.

Baycats starter Matthew St. Kitts recorded the victory, tossing seven innings while giving up zero earned runs on six hits and two bases on balls while striking out eight batters along the way.

Baycats shortstop Conner Morro led the way at the plate, going two-for-four.

Baycats closer Adam Hawes recorded the save.

Panthers reliever Brady Schnarr took the loss, tossing one-third of an inning while allowing one earned run on one hit and one base on balls.

BARRIE - 6-11-2

KITCHENER - 4-7-1

BIGGEST PLAY OF THE GAME: Down 4-1 in the top of the seventh inning, Morro hit a two-run double to left field to cut the Panthers lead to 4-3.

He would later score on a rocket of a single to right field by Baycats second basemen Starlin Rodriguez to tie the game at four runs apiece.

NICEST PLAY OF THE GAME: Tied at zero in the bottom of the first inning, Baycats right fielder Branfy Infante made a sliding catch in foul territory to retire Panthers centre fielder Tanner Nivins. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 0: Game two against the Panthers was St. Kitts' third start of the postseason, and in all three starts, he has allowed zero earned runs.

4: For the second game in a row, the Baycats erased a 4-0 lead to comeback and defeat the Panthers.

NEWS FROM THE GAME: With Baycats first basemen Jon Waltenbury absent in game two, Baycats left fielder Jeff Cowan took his place in the lineup and fared well.

He went two-for-four.

Baycats centre fielder Ryan Spataro, meanwhile, went hitless at the plate in game two, but a heroic postgame act may be the most memorable moment from the Baycats' game two victory.

That is -- legally -- all think I can say.

QUOTES FROM THE GAME...

Baycats General and Field Manager Angus Roy on Coming Back from Being Down 4-0 Again: "Being down 4-0 in the third is early," said Roy. "If we went down four runs in the eighth inning it would be a little tenser, but we have a lengthy lineup.

"We knew if we started making plays behind 'Kitts that he was going to keep pounding the zone and then we have a lot of confidence in our bullpen. 

"It is like I said to you after game one, you have to keep putting up zeros after falling behind because if we start chipping away and then all of sudden we give the lead back, that demoralises an offence.

"But it was the same thing as game one. Four runs one inning and then zeros the rest of the way. 

"I would like to see us be better defensively though. We have to play better defensively, because, like, we didn't give up an earned run tonight, so we have to be better than that. 

"If our pitchers put a ball on the ground and it is a routine one to make, we have to make that and we know it. Our guys know it too."

Roy on St. Kitts: "This is why we keep putting him out there," said Roy. "It is not surprising anymore. He seems to have another level come playoff time.

"I think also that having eighteen [Baycats catcher Kyle DeGrace] back behind the dish is a little helpful for everybody. It is just a confidence thing. When you hear our pitchers talking, they say they don't even think anymore. They just say whatever DeGrace throws down they are throwing.

"But we have confidence in St. Kitts. He has been our game two starter in the finals for the last few years. We love running him out there [because] he pounds the zone and throws strikes. 

"I think the thing that makes him really, really effective is that he's got a great changeup, so he's effective against both right-handed and left-handed hitters. He's got that equalizer."

More of Roy on St. Kitts: "The reason why we keep running him out there is that he has strikeout stuff," said Roy. "Bowling ball type fastball and traditionally doesn't give up a lot of flyballs.

"He has been great for us. He has been like the silent assassin. He doesn't show up to every game because he is a new father, but he is a great human being and sometimes we will be halfway through the regular season and then everyone is like 'who's pitching tonight?' and all of sudden 'Kitts walks into the clubhouse. 

"...He is just really good."

St. Kitts on His Outing: "These are the starts that I am going to remember," said St. Kitts. "Just sticking with it after the first two innings, because the game could have really gotten out of hand.

"I just stuck with the gameplan and pitched my way through that, so yeah. Grinding through it, yeah, these are the types of starts that I am going to remember at the end of all this."

Roy on Hawes' Back-to-Back Saves to Begin This Series: "He still gets butterflies on his way to games," said Roy of Hawes. "We talked about it on the bus ride down to the game.

"It's a calm having him out there. At the end of the day, it seems like come playoff time he always becomes our closer. He is just a calm. He pounds the zone.

"He has played some pro baseball too so I don't think it's ever going to be too big of a moment for him, and we have played enough big games like this one to know that he's calm, relaxed and just focused."

Roy on Panthers starter Yoennis Yera: "He was outstanding," said Roy. "He kept keeping us off balance but we continued to find a way. We kept grinding out at-bats and at the end of the night we scored more runs than they did."

NEXT UP: Game three of this series takes place Saturday evening from Coates Stadium in Midhurst.

First pitch is set for 7:00 PM.

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Photo: Brian Backland/Brian Backland Photography