Brantford Breaks Through in Hamilton
HAMILTON – The Brantford Red Sox traveled to Hamilton on Friday night in a pivotal game. Still looking for their first win of the season as it nears the halfway point, the Red Sox had been on the verge of victory several times recently against Guelph, Hamilton, and Barrie. Then, Brantford's momentum was hit by a freight train in the form of the defending IBL champion London Majors, who handily defeated the Sox in back to back games.
Brantford, used to dealing with a depleted roster already, was presented with a further challenge in Hamilton - sporting their shortest bench of the season with just one position player and one relief pitcher available. For a team battling against adversity all season long, this game felt like a turning point for Brantford who would have to show what fight they may still have left in them.
Things looked bleak for Brantford early on, with Hamilton scoring three runs in the first 2 innings. But the bottom of the order would reignite the spark for the Red Sox in the 3rd. Roger Keen worked a walk to start the inning. Then with 2 outs he advanced to third on a Troy Banks at bat, and was driven home by Nick Burdett, cutting the Cardinals lead to 3-1.
Brantford would tie things up in the 4th inning by capitalizing on opportunities. Colton Fountain led off scrambling to first base on a dropped third strike. He moved over on a Spencer Jamieson single. Both runners then advanced into scoring position on a passed ball, and were brought home by a Roger Keen single.
Hamilton struck right back in the 5th inning with a pair of runs to retake a 5-3 lead. But Branford continued to battle in the 6th. Liam Sutherland led off with a single, followed by a Fountain single. Evan Ryan then brought both runners home with a big single driven to left field. The game was now tied up 5-5 in the middle of the 6th inning.
Brantford starter Garrett Larner locked in - getting a pair of big strikeouts to shut down a threat in the 6th, followed by a three up three down 7th, and slamming the door on a Hamilton rally with two huge outs with a runner on 3rd in the 8th inning.
Still tied 5-5 entering the 9th inning, the Red Sox quickly found themselves in a hole with 2 outs. Lead off batter Jesse Fishbaum then worked a walk, breathing a last bit of life into Brantford's offence. A Hamilton error put Troy Banks on base and advanced Fishbaum. With a runner now in scoring position the stage was set for Nick Burdett, who literally could not be doing more for the team this season. And Burdett rose to the occasion once again, with a big single to cash in the go ahead run and make it 6-5 Brantford. The Red Sox headed into the bottom of the 9th with their first lead of the game.
Brantford's only other available pitcher Brian Lui, affectionately referred to as “The Machine”, entered to try and secure the save and Brantford's first win of the season. After inducing a flyout for the first out, Lui hit Cardinals batter Tyler Duncan to put the tying run on base. Lui then induced a popup to catcher Colton Fountain to bring Brantford within one out. Hamilton's Anthony Buonauito worked a walk to put the winning run on base. A wild pitch then moved Hamilton's runners over to second and third base. The Machine's prime directive was now to get the batter. And mission accomplished - Lui induced a flyout to right field on a 2-2 pitch, and Brantford earned their long awaited first win of the season.
FOR BRANTFORD - Garrett Larner turned in another incredible start for the Sox for his first IBL win, throwing 133 pitches over 8 innings, striking out 8 while walking just 1, and allowing just 3 earned runs. Brian Lui tossed a scoreless 9th to earn his first IBL save. Nick Burdett had a pair of hits, including driving in the winning run. Colton Fountain also added a pair of hits, while calling a masterful game behind the plate. Overall a great team effort for Brantford, where everyone contributed to lock down the team's first win.
NEXT UP - With the winless monkey off their backs, Brantford is back home on Sunday July 10 hosting the Barrie Baycats in a 2 pm start at Arnold Anderson Stadium. This is the team's last day home game until August. It is also Brant County SPCA Day at the ballpark. The SPCA is currently in desperate need of canned kitten food - bring in a donation of kitten food, or other items from their Wishlist and receive half price admission at the gate!
Brantford Red Sox summer camp is back this year from July 18-22! For more information and to register your kids please visit brantfordredsox.com/summer-camp