Late errors dim IBL Cards playoff hopes

With only seven games remaining in regular season play, the Hamilton Cardinals find themselves six games away from the final playoff spot.

The Cards latest senior Intercounty Baseball League setback, an 8-7 defeat at the hands of the London Majors on Tuesday (July 10), was the club’s ninth straight loss. The host Majors scored six times in the final three innings as they defeated Hamilton, 8-7. London’s third consecutive win moved the Majors 3 1/2 games up on Toronto and Barrie who are tied for third.

The idle Burlington Twins hold the eighth and last playoff spot and has played two fewer games than Hamilton.

The Majors walk-off win came on Chris Stewart’s double in the bottom of the ninth inning. Hamilton had led 5-2 going into the seventh inning when London scored a pair of runs, added three more in the eighth and finished with Stewart’s hit.

Hamilton had scored two runs in the top of the final inning to tie the game and set up potential extra innings. But Stewart’s two-sacker negated Anthony Rizquez’s effort.

Nathan Smith had two singles and two doubles for Hamilton.

Cleveland Brownlee would go three-for-five with a run scored and two RBI Chris Stewart went two-for-five.

Hamilton opened the game with a pair of runs in the first inning. Chris Redfern drew a walk and moved to second on an error to starting pitcher Chris Hammond. Redfern advanced to third when Ryan Taylor grounded out to shortstop and Jon Saporsantos reached on a fielder’s choice. On the play, the Majors opted to get Redfern at the plate but an error by the catcher allowed Redfern to score. Saporsantos scored on Chike Springer’s fielder’s choice for a 2-0 lead.

The Cardinals added to their lead in the next inning as Rizquez singled and Smith doubled with one out. Rizquez came home on Redfern’s groundout to second base and Smith scored on a wild pitch to give the Cards a four-run lead.

Hamilton went up 5-0 in the In the third when Saporsantos scored on Andrew Jacinto’s single.

London broke the goose egg in the bottom of the third. Derrick Strazalkowski singled to open the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. Allan Cattrysse hit a two-out double to plate Strazalkowski.

Brownlee opened the Majors’ half of the fourth with a single and promptly steal second. Paul LaMantia reached base on a fielder’s choice but on the play, Redfern was charged with an error which allowed Brownlee to score.

That error was one of four that would prove fatal to the Cards. With the Cards up 5-2 in the seventh inning, Cattrysse, Byron Reichstein and Brownlee hit singles to load the bases. Facing two outs, LaMantia singled to bring in Cattrysse but Reichstein also scored on the play due to an error by Jacinto.

London’s comeback continued in the eighth when Joel Gattoni singled to open the inning. He moved to second on Stewart’s sacrifice bunt followed by Cattrysse who reached base on an error which saw Gattoni move to third base. Reichstein was intentionally walked to load the bases. Brownlee stepped to the plate and singled in two runs and Reichstein also crossed the plate on an error to give the Majors a 7-5 lead.

In the top of the ninth Taylor was get hit by a pitch and moved to second on Saporsantos’ single. Ranta singled in Taylor to cut the London lead to one run. A walk to John Solazzo loaded the bases before Rizquez singled with two outs to tie the game.

London took the game after Strazalkowski and Froese singled to open the bottom half of the ninth. After designated hitter Joel Gattoni flew out, Stewart doubled in the game winning run.

Hamilton reliever John Solazzo was charged with the loss. He pitched the ninth inning allowing one run on three hits over the four batters he faced. Starter Brett van Pelt went six and a third innings, allowing four runs – three of which were earned – on nine hits, four walks, a hit batter, five strike outs, and a wild pitch. Neal Lambert relieved in the seventh, allowing three runs – only one was earned – on three hits, one walk and striking out two.

For the Majors Taylor Car earned the win coming in to face the final five Hamilton batters. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out two.

The Cards return home on Friday (July 13) when the Ottawa Fat Cats make their only visit to Bernie Arbour Stadium. Game time is 7:30 p.m.