Thunderbirds draw first blood in Intercounty baseball playoff opener

Hamilton Thunderbirds were double winners yesterday in senior Intercounty Baseball League play.

Prior to the start of their opening playoff game against the Kitchener Panthers, the league announced that pitcher Scott Wells had been named the Rawlings Player of the Week for July 22.

The T-Birds followed up that tribute with a 10-2 win over the Panthers on Thursday (July 26) in Kitchener. Game two of the best-of-seven affair goes tonight (Friday) at Hamilton’s Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium. The first pitch will be tossed at 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday night, Hamilton didn’t waste any time, scoring three times in the opening inning. Hamilton added a run in the third and plated two more in the fifth before the Panthers scored a pair in the sixth inning. But three more Hamilton runs in the seventh inning and a single in the eighth sealed the Thunderbirds win.

While the Thunderbirds offence produced five homeruns, the pitching of Erik Perez kept the Panthers at bay. The Hamilton hurler pitched a complete game, allowing two unearned runs on seven hits while recording seven strikeouts and four walks. Losing pitcher Ian Hagan of Kitchener worked through six and two-thirds innings allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits. He had four strikeouts and five walks, but was touched up for four of the five round trippers.

Two of the Thunderbirds homeruns came off the bat of Adam Strongman, who had four runs-batted-in on the evening. Geoff Allen, Jon McGinn, and Marcel Champagnie, who had three hits in the game, had the other homeruns.

For Kitchener, junior Terrell Alliman had two hits with Justin Wendt and Mike Roeder adding a double each.

Wells earned his player-of-the-week honours after a stellar performance that saw him sit down 13 of the 33 batters he faced on strikes through eight and two-thirds innings in the Thunderbirds 4-0 win over the Oshawa Dodgers.

Wells, in getting those strikeouts, became the third Thunderbirds pitcher to strike out nine or more batters in a game at Bernie Arbour. The sophomore hurler (and occasional fielder) walked two batters, scattered seven Dodgers hits, and assisted on two first-base putouts.

He is the second Thunderbird to get the weekly honour this season. On May 21, Geoff Allen was the recipient.