KITCHENER – The Kitchener Panthers were hoping for another come from behind rally in the ninth inning at Jack Couch Park Thursday night. But Tim Black had others ideas.
The Hamilton Cardinals’ flame thrower struck out Darnell Duckett, Mike Andrulis and Iggy Villalobos in order to seal a 6-4 win in a back and forth affair.
Hamilton, 10-14, came into the game suffering two straight losses, and wasted no time getting on base early and scoring Andris Riquez on a single by Zack Ranta in the first inning.
The 12-11 Panthers responded quickly in the bottom of the first against Hamilton’s starter Matt Martinow. Tanner Nivins, hitting in the cleanup spot, stroked a single back up the middle and scored on a home run by Mitch Delaney. The next batter, Jeff Pietraszko, sent a pitch over the left field fence for a solo blast.
The Cardinals took the lead back in the second with back-to-back home runs off starter Adam Echlin, including a two-run shot by Jonathan Solazzo. Echlin, coming back after nursing an abscess, came into the game with a bloated 10.21 earned run average.
Echlin settled down in the third, and the Panthers tied things up again off a Brian Burton single down the third base line that scored Delaney.
The Cardinals went ahead again the fifth on a sacrifice fly, but were robbed of two more runs by a leaping Duckett, who made an incredible catch to steal back what would have been another home run by Solazzo.
Matt Vickers came on in relief and held the Cardinals at bay in the six and seventh. Japanese import pitcher Kaisuke Saito, a former farmhand for the Tokyo Giants, pitched the eight and gave up a hit, but forced Hamilton to strand two runners.
Black took the ball in the fifth and stayed solid, including getting out of a jam with two on by getting Nivins to fly out to right fielder Dre Celestijn in the seventh.
The Panthers had a chance again in the eighth after a pinch-hitting Keith Kandel slapped a single that got through the shortstop and put Pietraszko on third with two out, but a strikeout by Kaiden Bowers ended the inning.
Mike Gatchene pitched the ninth and had two strikeouts, including against Hamilton’s hottest hitter, Kyle Gappa, with two men on. But he also threw a wild pitch that brought in the Cardinals’ sixth firstname.lastname@example.org