by Sam Aucoin

WELLAND – The Baycats pick up a massive win in game one of the IBL finals on the road against the Jackfish. Trailing for most of the game, Barrie grabbed the lead late as Frank Garcés threw his third complete game of 2023.

As expected for game one of the finals, we saw a great pitching matchup. Alberto Guerrero went for the Jackfish, up against Frank Garcés for the Baycats. Guerrero pitched seven innings, striking out eight and allowing just one earned run on six hits. Garcés, pitching in his second IBL final, recorded his sixth career playoff win. He struck out 12 batters giving up three earned runs.

The scoring started early as James Smibert hit an RBI single in the bottom of the first, making it 1-0 Jackfish. Adam Odd tied the game as he drove in Carson Burns on a run-scoring double in the third inning. The tie didn’t last long thanks to a bunt single by Gianfranco Morello, which scored Tyler Dupuis.

Not much else happened against either starter. Runners were being stranded and big outs were made. Ryan Rijo ended that as in the top of the sixth, he hit a ball just deep enough to score Canice Ejoh on a sacrifice fly, tying the game at two. Ejoh’s name would be brought up again in a big way two innings later. The Baycats center fielder crushed a solo home run to left field, making it 3-2 for Barrie.

After an eventful bottom half that ended on a play at third which resulted in Ethan Hunt being called out on a close play, Barrie would add a crucial add-on run in the ninth. Malik Williams crossed the plate on a wild pitch. That run would be big as Steven Moretto hit his fourth home run of the postseason.

That run was all Welland could muster up in the ninth against Garcés, who closed out the game, giving the Barrie Baycats a 1-0 series lead in the IBL Finals.

NEXT UP: Game two of the finals is Sunday night at Vintage Throne Stadium. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. and you can get tickets here.