TORONTO – The Kitchener Panthers have another date with the Brantford Red Sox in the Intercounty Baseball League’s semifinals after downing Toronto 6-5 on the road Saturday to win their first-round playoff series.
Bryon Bell launched a two-run home run, Mike Andrulis drove in two runs and Darnell Duckett smacked another RBI in the win for the Panthers, who had eight hits in Saturday’s back and forth affair.
Starter Matt McGovern pitched into the eighth inning before being relieved by Matt Robertson, giving up four earned runs and ten hits while striking out four. Marcos Reyna earned the save – including a big strike out of Sean Mattson with two men on base to end the game.
Mattson had already belted a pair of homers for the Leafs and had driven in three runs when he came to the plate against the Panthers’ newly-appointed closer.
The win sets up a rematch of last year’s second-round series, when the Panthers were swept by Brantford, who went on to win their fifth consecutive championship. This year, Brantford advanced after beating Guelph 5-3 on Saturday night.
The Panthers-Red Sox series starts Tuesday night in Brantford, before coming to Jack Couch Park Thursday night.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, Saturday’s loss was a nail-biting end to their season at Dominico Field in Christie Pits. Toronto, who allowed 64 runs in the six-game series, wound up with another .500 record regular season record followed by a six-game loss in the opening round of the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Saturday’s game went back and forth, with the lead changing hands several times until the Panthers went ahead 5-4 in the top of the seventh on RBI singles by Andrulis and Duckett. Kitchener added a single run in the eighth to lead 6-4, but had to escape jams in the eighth and ninth innings.
Leaf slugger Jon Waltenbury, who homered and had two hits, was tossed from the game for arguing a call in the seventh inning. One inning prior, Toronto’s Damon Topolie was called out in a double play when it was ruled he didn’t touch first base.
Bell’s big hit in the second inning was the 15th run he’d driven in during the six playoff games for the Panthers, who won all three matchups of the series in Toronto.
Toronto’s starter Marek Deska went six and a third innings, allowing five runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. Justin Cicatello came on in relief and allowed one run on two hits with one strikeout and three walks in two and one third innings.
Game 1 at Brantford, Tuesday, August 20 at 8:00pm
Game 2 at Kitchener, Thursday, August 22 at 7:30pm
Game 3 at Brantford, Saturday, August 24 at 8:00pm
Game 4 at Kitchener, Sunday, August 25 at 7:30pm
Game 5* at Brantford, Tuesday, August 27 at 8:00pm
Game 6* at Kitchener, Wednesday, August 28 at 7:30pm
Game 7* at Brantford, Thursday, August 29 at 8:00pm
*If needed. All Kitchener games at Jack Couch Park, 400 East Avenue, Kitchener. All Brantford games at Arnold Anderson Stadium, 35 Sherwood Drive, Brantford.