Thunderbirds to meet first place finisher in IBL playoff opener

Will it be Toronto or Brantford?

Going into Monday night’s senior Intercounty Baseball League game against the Guelph Royals, the Hamilton Thunderbirds knew they had the eighth and final playoff SPOT. So the 7-4 loss they were handed in Guelph had no impact on their post-season plans. But who they will meet in the first round remains undecided. It will be either the Brantford Red Sox or the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brantford is home on Wednesday night to the Barrie Baycats and loss would tie them with Toronto for first place, each with 23-13 records. The Red Sox have a half game edge on the Leafs who have completed their regular schedule.

The T-Birds ended the 2010 regular season with a 12-24 record.

Guelph opened the scoring with a single run in the first inning. Frankie Hare led off with a double and moved to third base when Jeremy Ware grounded out. Hare scored on John Waltenbury’s sacrifice fly to left field.

Guelph extended the lead to 3-0 in the third inning. Ware stroked a two-out double and scored on a single from Waltenbury, who reached home on Sean Reilly’s single.

The Thunderbirds got on the board in the top of the fifth. Jon Saporsantos had a lead-off single and advanced to second base on Tim Hebner’s base hit. Saporsantos and Jordan Windisch, pinch running for Hebner, advanced on Tyler Windisch’s sac bunt. Saporsantos raced home when Jamie Lekas singled.

Royals’ third baseman Mark Allen opened the bottom of the sixth with a triple and came home on Kevin Hinton’s sacrifice fly to right field. Brad Cochrane doubled, advanced to third when Sean Travers was safe on error, and scored when Nathan Grant laid down a sacrifice bunt.

Trailing 5-2, the Thunderbirds added to their total with a run in the seventh. Tyler Windisch hit into a bases loaded double play that cashed in Graeme Carey. Hamilton scored another run in the eighth as Carey hit a two-out double to plate Adam Cholewka from second base.

Guelph would get both runs back in the bottom of the eighth on Hare’s two-out, two run homerun.

Hamilton would go on to add one more run in the top of the ninth on Darnell Duckett’s two-out RBI single.

Greg Byron got the win for Guelph going five innings, allowing one earned run on six hits and striking out two. Chris Romano would get the save, pitching the final inning and a third allowing an earned run on two hits and striking out two. Dexter Souter would relieve Byron and go two innings allowing one earned run on one hit while walking two and striking out one. Andrew Vant Wout came in going two-thirds of an inning allowing an earned run on a single hit while walking two batters and striking out one.

For Hamilton, Kyle Pegg got his first start coming off an injury. Pegg went three innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits. Justin Volpato would relieve Pegg and pitch two innings allowing a hit and a walk. Mike Fortuna would then pitch an inning allowing two runs, one of which