Long ball helps T-Birds end losing streak

What many people may have thought was a cool breezing sweeping over the city, was actually the Hamilton Thunderbirds breathing a huge sigh of relief after they stopped their lengthy losing streak.

The T-Birds scored an 11-8 win over the Kitchener Panthers on Saturday (July 23) after dropping 11 straight senior Intercounty Baseball League games. And they did it despite Kitchener hitting four homeruns, including two from Luke Baker. Hamilton responded in the homerun derby with dingers from Chris Piano and James Anderson.

The Thunderbirds lit the scoreboard in their first at bat of the game when Zach Elbirt opened the game by reaching base on an error and advanced to third on a wild pitch.  Elbirt would then score when Zack Ranta grounded out for the second out of the inning. Dan Jagdeo kept the inning alive with a double and scored on Warren Bradley’s single.  Darnell Duckett and Anderson would also single with Bradley scoring on Anderson’s hit to give the T-Birds an early 3-0 lead.

It didn’t take Kitchener long to respond as Baker took the second pitch of the bottom half of the first out of the park for a solo homerun while Jeff Pietraszko hit a two-run homerun three batters later to tie the game at three.

The Thunderbirds would regain the lead in the second on Piano’s two-out solo homerun.  However, the lead was short lived once again as Brent Mitchell, who was hit by a pitch, scored on Baker’s RBI single to tie the game for a second time. Kitchener would take its only lead of the game when Mike Winter hit a solo homerun with two outs in the fourth inning.

Hamilton would once again take the lead, this time for good, in the fifth. The Thunderbirds would load the bases before Duckett singled to bring in two runs. Bradley reached home on a pass ball and Duckett would score on Steven Hubbs’ single to give the T-Birds an 8-5 lead.

James Anderson added to the lead in the seventh as he hit a three-run homerun which scored the eventual game winning run. Hamilton looked to add to its total in the same inning, once again loading the bases, but was unsuccessful. The Panthers would get two runs back in the bottom of the seventh off Baker’s second round tripper and one more in the ninth when Winter scored on a wild pitch.

Matt Betts started the game for the Thunderbirds, earning the win in eight and a third innings of work. He allowed eight runs on 10 hits and struck out four Panthers. Mike Fortuna would get the save pitching two-thirds of an inning, walking one batter and striking out another.

Mike McGillivray took to the mound for Kitchener going six innings allowing eight runs, only three were earned, on nine hits, two walks and striking out three.  David Canavan relieved McGillivray to start the seventh and only went two-thirds of an inning allowing three earned runs on two hits while walking three batters.  Andrew Vant Wout finished the game for the Panthers going two and a third innings allowing four hits.

The Thunderbirds close out the regular season against the Burlington Twins.