KITCHENER — The Barrie Baycats handed the Kitchener Panthers their first loss at home Sunday night with an 11-5 drubbing at Jack Couch Park.
Kitchener, 8-6, came into the game nursing two consecutive loses and struggling to cash in runners. In Friday's 10-3 loss in London, the Panthers couldn't score a run past the first inning, and were held to a single run in Tuesday's loss in Barrie.
But hitting wasn't the problem Sunday, it was shaky relief pitching.
Starter Marcos Reyna, apparently showing no ill-effects from a line drive he took on the elbow last Sunday, was cruising until the fifth inning, when he gave up a three-run home run to Kevin Atkinson.
The inning was extended after a passed ball by catcher Rick Murray allowed Jason Coker to get on base and then steal second. Reyna, a California-born import, got out of the inning by striking out Ryan Asis for his ninth strikeout of the night.
Barrie countered Reyna with its own hired gun, Ohio-born import pitcher Adam Rowe, making his Intercounty league debut. The 31-year-old lefty veteran of independent leagues and former Kansas City Royals draft pick struck out nine Panthers in seven innings of work.
Jeff Pietraszko tied the game up in the bottom of the fifth with a solo shot in the bottom, and the Panthers went ahead thanks to some heads-up base running by designated hitter Bryon Bell, who advanced to third on a passed ball and was driving in by Darnell Duckett.
Veteran starter Adam Echlin was brought in to replace Reyna in the sixth, and had a tidy inning with some help from catcher Rick Murray who threw out a sliding Brandon Dhue on an attempted steal at second.
But Echlin ran into trouble in the seventh, loading bases with none out after mishandling a dribbler to the mound by Kyle Gilligan. Atkinson made him pay in the next at-bat — crushing the ball over the centrefield fence for a grand slam.
That brought Mike McGillivray into the game, who immediately gave up a run by throwing over the head of catcher Murray, allowing the runner to score from third. The pair repeated that mistake with the next batter, giving up another passed ball and allowing Barrie's tenth run to score.
The Baycats would end up scoring seven runs in the inning. McGillivray settled down in the eighth and submariner Daisuke Yasui came on in the ninth for a tidy inning, but the damage was already done.
The Panthers' next home game is Thursday night, 7:30 p.m. at Jack Couch Park against the Toronto Maple Leafs.