Red Sox On The Cusp vs. Royals
BRANTFORD - On Friday night the Guelph Royals paid their first visit to Brantford since July 14, 2019. Brantford looked to build on their positive momentum from Wednesday night to try and secure their first win of the season. And for the first time this season, the Brantford Red Sox can say they should have won the game. Now it is in their hands to execute correctly and secure the W.
The Red Sox got off to a solid start in the first inning, easily retiring the first 3 batters in the heavy hitting Royals lineup. In the 2nd, Brantford was poised to keep things scoreless until a costly error would strike. With 2 outs and bases loaded, what should have been a routine flyout to end the inning was instead dropped by left fielder Roger Keen on a lackadaisical effort. Guelph veteran Justin Interisano strolled home, and with the air now sucked out of the deflated Sox the Royals would add on 4 more runs. Guelph led 5-0 in the middle of the 2nd inning.
Many times this season, this would have been the end of Brantford's night. But the Red Sox have shown some newfound resiliency as of late, and instead of rolling over they fought back. Liam Sutherland, hitting everything in sight in recent games, led off with a sharp infield single. Sutherland would then steal 2nd base, followed by Spencer Jamieson working a walk. Jr. callup Evan Ryan then put Brantford right back into the game, blasting a 3 run shot (YouTube clip) over the left field fence, his first career IBL home run. Red Sox trailed 5-3 heading into the 3rd inning.
Brantford's defence tightened up in the 3rd, getting out of the visitors half of the inning cleanly while stranding 2 Guelph baserunners. Then, the Red Sox bats went right back to work. Troy Banks led off working a walk, and was moved over to 2nd by a Nick Burdett single. Sutherland then drove a double off the left field fence, cashing in Banks. Spencer Jamieson kept the line moving with a base hit up the middle, cashing in a pair. Brantford reloaded the bases on a Jaret Lupton single and a Keen walk. Jesse Fishbaum and Troy Banks would then each work bases-loaded walks, putting the Red Sox firmly in front with an 8-5 lead after 3 innings.
Playing from ahead and holding a lead was a new challenge for Brantford to rise to. After a scoreless 4th inning, a familiar scenario played out in the 5th. With 2 outs and 2 Royals on base, second baseman Lupton made an errant throw on what should've been a routine play for the 3rd out. Interisano cashed in another unearned run for Guelph on the play, and Brantford once again continued on in another inning that should've been over. The damage would be limited to one more run, and the Red Sox lead was cut to 8-7 after 5 innings.
Now into Brantford's bullpen, Guelph would retake the lead in the top of the 6th with a pair of runs courtesy of walks, wild pitches, and a hit by pitch for good measure. The Red Sox bats, notorious for cooling off in later innings this season, stayed active tonight. Brantford loaded the bases before a Jamieson RBI single brought home Burdett to tie things up, chasing Guelph starter Lukas Barry from the game. The Sox would have to settle for the lone run however and left the bases loaded, with the teams now deadlocked 9-9 after 6 innings.
The Royals continued to hit in the 7th, breaking the tie with 4 runs to take a 13-9 lead. The Red Sox answered back in the 7th and 8th, but only with a pair of single runs courtesy of Fishbaum driving in Lupton, and a Nick Burdett solo shot (in career at bat 1009) to cut the lead to 13-11.
After Guelph tacked on an insurance run in the top of the 9th, Brantford found themselves in unfamiliar territory - needing just 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th to walk it off and secure their first win of the season. Unfortunately, as the clock struck midnight the home side was all out of magic. After 3 hours and 40 minutes, and 25 combined runs, the Red Sox fell 14-11 to the Royals.
For Brantford - starting pitcher Garrett Larner was solid, giving up just 4 hits over 4.2 innings of work. Nick Burdett went 3 for 5 on the night (including his 2nd HR of the season), with 3 runs scored and 1 RBI. Liam Sutherland also went 3 for 5, with 2 runs scored, 1 RBI and a stolen base. Spencer Jamieson was 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI. Brantford's defence was the sore spot on the night, committing 4 very costly errors - only 5 of Guelph's 14 runs were earned.
Friday was Brantford Minor Baseball Association night at the ballpark, a thanks to all of the young BMBA players who came out. And a big thanks to all of the fans who stayed right until the final out in what was unquestionably Brantford's best effort of the season.
Brantford now has a rare weekend off, before returning to action on Friday July 1. The Red Sox host the Hamilton Cardinals in the teams' traditional Canada Day matchup. Game time is 2 pm at Arnold Anderson Stadium. There's lots happening with a Canada flag pin giveaway (while supplies last), Shaelee Sheppard performing the National Anthem, and in memory of longtime Brantford Red Sox supporter Brett Ramey we will be accepting donations to Stedman Community Hospice - receive 1/2 price admission at the gate with a donation.