The Hamilton Thunderbirds closed in on a playoff spot with a 9-7 win over the Kitchener Panthers in eight innings in the opening game of their senior Intercounty Baseball League doubleheader.
Hamilton pounded out 15 hits in the opener at Bernie Arbour Stadium for their fourth straight victory. Kitchener lost its fourth straight game with the game one loss.
Matt McGraw hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to win it. McGraw had two hits, scored three runs and drove in three more for the T-Birds as Hamilton rallied from a 7-2 deficit after Kitchener scored seven runs in the third inning.
Dan Jagdeo had three hits and drove in a pair of runs, and Tim Hebner and Adam Cholewka both added two hits and an RBI for the winners. Reliever Nino Fasulo pitched two shutout innings for the win, allowing three hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
Mike Glinka had two hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Panthers, while Mike Winter and Christian Boghossian both had two hits and an RBI. Tavis Bruce was the loser, allowing two runs on one hit over one inning of relief.
In the night cap, the Panthers, playing as the home team as a result of re-scheduling from Thursday night, rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 8-3 and gain a split.
Kitchener (19-16) scored six runs in the fifth inning to pick up the win, making the most of their six hits. Hamilton (11-22) now has a half game lead on the Ottawa Fat Cats for the eighth and final playoff spot in the IBL after the split.
Luke Baker drove in a pair of runs for the winners, while Boghossian had two of the Panthers eight hits in the nightcap. Justin Gianfrancesco scored twice and drove in a run for Kitchener .
Shaun Hancock picked up the win in relief for the Panthers. He went 3 2/3 hitless innings, striking out four and walking one.
Adam Durfee drove in a pair of runs for the T-Birds, while Darnell Duckett had two hits and scored a pair of runs for Hamilton. Loser Matt Martinow allowed five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings, striking out one and walking one.