For the first time since 2010, the Hamilton Cardinals have won at least 10 regular season games, thanks to Thursday’s (July 4) 6-4 triumph of the Kitchener Panthers.
John Solazzo went two-for-three at the plate and drove in three runs as Hamilton improved to 10-14 on the season and moved into a tie for fifth place with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both teams are 11 1/2 games behind league-leading Brantford Red Sox.
Hamilton opened the scoring in the top of the first as Andris Rizquez, who singled on the first pitch of the game, scored on Zack Ranta’s two out safety.
The cheering was short lived as Kitchener came right back in the bottom of the inning with three runs. Tanner Nivins hit a two-out single, followed by Mitch Delaney’s two-run homer. Jeff Pietraszko then connected for a solo shot to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead after one inning.
The Cardinals got those runs back in the second. Jon Saporsantos singled to open the inning and Solazzo brought him home on a two-run home run to tie the game. Zack Sardellitti followed Solazzo with a solo home run to give Hamilton a one-run lead again.
In the bottom of the third, the Panthers tied matter when Delaney reached base on a fielder’s choice, moved to third on Pietraszko’s double and scored when Brian Burton singled.
Ranta led off the fifth with a single for the Cardinals and advanced to third base on Kyle Gappa’s double. But he was thrown out trying to score as Saporsantos reached first on a fielder’s choice and Gappa went to third on the play. Gappa scored on Solazzo’s sacrifice fly to right field for what turned out to be the game winning run.
Hamilton added one more run in the ninth when Dan Jagdeo scored on a wild pitch to help give the Cardinals the 6-4 victory.
For Hamilton, Tim Black earned his second win of the season when he came in to relieve Matt Martinow to start the fifth. Black went five innings allowing three hits and striking out seven to drop his ERA on the season to 0.90. Martinow started the game and went four innings allowing four earned runs; one was unearned, on seven hits and striking out one.
For Kitchener, Adam Echlin started the game and took the loss going five innings allowing five earned runs on ten hits while striking out four batters and hitting one. Matt Vickers came in to pitch the sixth and seventh innings and allowed a walk. Kaisuke Saito relieved Vickers to start the eight allowing one hit over the five batters he faced. Mike Gatchene finished the game for the Panthers allowing one earned run, walking two and striking out three.
Hamilton’s next game is Friday (July 5) at Bernie Arbour Stadium starting at 7:30 p.m. when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit.