Hamilton ends regular schedule on winning note

Bronson Lake’s five and a third innings of relief pitching along with Zack Ranta’s run-batted-in single in the bottom of the fourth propelled Hamilton to a 6-5 victory over the Burlington Twins in front of a season high 218 fans on Canadian Diabetes Association Day. The Thunderbirds end the regular season with a 7-28 record and will take on the Barrie Baycats in the first round of the Intercounty Baseball League playoffs.

The win was Hamilton’s second straight after dropping 11 in a row.

Hamilton would get themselves into trouble in the top of the first, committing two errors on the first two batters. Burlington capitalized on the miscues as Matt Spillman scored when Peter Bako reached base on one of the errors. Branson Joseph (2-for-4) and John Slattery (3-for-4) each singled with Bako scoring on Slattery’s hit. Jeff MacLeod then drew a two out walk to load the bases and Jeff Kosta brought in two runs on a single to give the Twins a 4-0 lead.

The Thunderbirds got one run back in the bottom of the first when Zach Elbirt led off with a single and promptly stole second base and third. He would score on Dan Jagdeo’s single to make it 4-1.

Hamilton cut Burlington’s lead to one in the second inning. Graeme Carey got on base via a fielder’s choice and was followed by Elbirt’s second single of the game. Both Carey and Elbirt scored on Chris Piano’s two-out triple.

In the third, Hamilton would take the lead after loading the bases with consecutive walks to James Anderson, Jon Saporsantos and Steve Martinow, all with two outs. Carey took four straight balls to score Anderson. Saporsantos scored on a wild pitch.

Burlington responded in the top of the fourth tying the game at five when Spillman scored on Bako’s RBI single. However, the Thunderbirds got that run back in the bottom fourth when Piano led off the inning with a single and moved to second on an error and subsequently scored on Ranta’s RBI single for the eventual game winning run. From that point on, the pitchers of both teams took over the game combining for nine strikeouts over the final four and a half innings.

Ryan Van Spronsen started the game for the Thunderbirds going two innings and allowing four unearned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out two. Lake relieved Van Spronsen to start the third inning and went five and a third allowing one earned run on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts for the win. Mike Fortuna would take to the mound going two-thirds of an inning getting both batters he faced to fly out and ground out to end the eighth. Nino Fasulo finished the game for Hamilton pitching the ninth and getting one of three batters he faced to strikeout for the save.

Bill Ralston started for Burlington, going three innings allowing five earned runs on four hits and six walks while striking out two. Luis Castillo relieved Ralston to start the fourth, allowing one earned run on one hit facing only one batter taking the loss. Dave Hatt and Jeff MacLeod would pitch the final five innings combining to allow five hits, three walks and striking out eight Thunderbirds.

The Hamilton Thunderbirds and their fans raised $500 at Sunday’s game in support of the Canadian Diabetes Association. The first game of the Thunderbirds-Baycats series will open on Tuesday night in Barrie at 7:30 p.m.

The Burlington Twins (9-24) play the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night (July 25) in Burlington to close out their regular season and will either play the Leafs or the London Majors in the first round of the playoffs.