Post-Game Majors Cleveland Brownlee
In professional sports, when one team is on the verge of eliminating another, the stars have to be aligned just right in order to secure the series clinching victory. Athletes always say that the close out game, is the hardest to win. Players, particularly baseball players, are also very superstitious. They are very careful about preparation before games, for example, eating the same meals, taking naps at the same time on game days. During the games, perhaps guys wear a lucky pair of socks, or other things that bring each player good luck. Players quite noticeably will skip over any of the foul lines when entering or exiting the diamond. All of this in an effort to duplicate the exact process or formula for a win. Well, if the full moon hovering over centerfield was an omen for any of the superstitious players Tuesday night, the Majors could be in for a freaky night. The city of London was still buzzing about London’s obliteration of Burlington to the tune of a 15-2 win Sunday evening on the road at Nelson Park. The Majors’ offensive prowess was never more clear than in Sunday’s complete dominance for virtually the entire 9 innings that were played. London scored runs in every inning except for the 4th and 7th innings. When the beatdown was mercilessly over in Game #4 in Burlington, the Majors’ stat line read 15 hits, 15 runs, and 0 errors. Certainly there was realistic optimism amongst London and their fans, that Tuesday night would be the end of the Herd and their 1st round series.
There was no surprise that the Majors started their ace in the hole, flame-thrower, Luis Sanchez. Sanchez last pitched in Game #1 on August the 2nd, in a pitching duel, where London emerged with the 1-0 win and series lead. That aforementioned full moon seemed to be having an early impact on this game because the usually calm, cool, and collected Sanchez, was getting a lot of contact on his pitches from Burlington’s 1st inning hitters. 2 hits, led to 1 run and a 1-0 lead for the Herd to start the game. That was definitely what the doctor would have ordered for Burlington, who faced the very real threat of being bounced from the 2017 IBL playoffs in the 1st round. Now it was the Majors’ turn to get on the scoreboard and answer the output of the Herd in the 1st inning. This is not a typo or mistaken repeat of an excerpt from previous games. London’s leadoff tactician Chris McQueen wasted no time getting on base in his 1st at bat of the game with a single. Just as quickly as he reached 1st, McQueen was caught trying to steal 2nd. Base running gaffes are a rare occurrence for the usually fundamentally sound McQueen. Could it be that he was put out attempting a steal due to the full moon? Nonsense. Carlos Arteaga was not affected by the moon, as he ripped a single into the outfield, stole 2nd base, and advanced to 3rd base on a pass ball. Up stepped fan favourite Cleveland Brownlee. Brownlee, who is always good for an entertaining soundbite, has had an a very up and down type of series, on the upswing Sunday night in Burlington, as hee has awoken from his deep offensive sleep. Coming into Game #5’s 1st inning at bat, Brownlee was fresh from his 2 HR, 4 RBI, night in the Majors 15-2 trouncing of the Herd. The loveable DH entered the batter’s box to one of his many signature entrance themes, and swatted a bloop single into centerfield for London’s 1st run of the game. More importantly, Brownlee’s RBI tied the contest and erased the lead that Burlington had gained earlier in the same inning. Brownlee was then forced out at 2nd on a ground ball off of the bat of Mike Ambrose for the 3rd out of the inning, as 1-1 was the score after the 1st inning.
The 2nd inning was over for both teams faster than a Usain Bolt 100 metre race. The Herd walked, and singled, but were sat down by Sanchez without damage done. Sanchez induced Burlington into 2 ground balls which resulted in 2 of the 3 outs, ending the Herd’s half of the inning. The Majors fared no better. Starting pitcher for Burlington, Christian Hauck, barely broke a sweat when he sat down London in order 1,2,3 for a 3 up and 3 down bottom of the 2nd inning. The Herd’s Ryan Freemantle tried to ignite his team’s offense by hitting a single to lead off the 3rd inning, but Sanchez and his ground ball luring pitches, produced a rare double play for the Majors to end the threat. No hits or runs for London in the bottom of the 3rd, which left the score at 1-1 after 3 innings of action. The 4th and 5th innings continued to tell the story of the game thus far. Burlington was spraying the baseball all over the outfield for hits, however, their 7 hits after 5 innings, could still only produce 1 run from Luis Sanchez. The Majors were having their own issues, basically the opposite of the Herd’s issues with Sanchez. London had only 3 hits after 5 innings off of Burlington’s starter Christian Hauck, for 1 run, and a 1-1 tie.
As the moon became more visible and ominous in colour, lighting up the London sky over the centerfield wall, all of a sudden the Majors slumbering bats, woke up. After the Herd took the lead 2-1 off the bat of a Mike Schmidt solo homer over the right field wall, fence, and out of the ballpark for a lucky pedestrian walking on Riverside Drive in the top of the 6th inning, London took control of the game. Starting pitcher for Burlington, Christian Hauck, loaded the bases for the Majors slugger Byron Reichstein. Reichstein singled home Chris McQueen, who was in a familiar location, on base in scoring position. Later, Mike Ambrose was walked, scoring another run for the home team, making the score 3-2 for London. Kyle Gormandy, in the same inning, singled home 2 runs, giving himself 2 RBI, and providing his teammate Luis Sanchez more of a cushion. 5-2 for the Majors after 6 innings of what was a close contest. The Herd looked as if the wind was taken out of their sails after that long 6th inning. London would put away Burlington in the 7th inning, adding 2 more runs for insurance. The 1st run came from a double by Byron Reichstein, which garnished his 2nd RBI of the game. The red-hot DH Cleveland Brownlee, hit another single earning himself his 2nd RBI of the night, and 6th in the last 2 games. Majors’ starting pitcher Luis Sanchez looked like he ran out of steam in the 8th, and was replaced by Mike DeLong in the 9th. DeLong made it look easy, slamming the door shut profoundly on the Herd in this series, killing any thoughts of a last minute rally. DeLong had a 3 up and 3 down 9th inning, securing the 7-2 win for London, and the subsequent elimination from the playoffs of Burlington.
The Majors have advanced to the 2nd round of the 2017 playoffs, beating the Burlington Herd 4 games to 1. London’s Manager Roop Chanderdat, said that they would enjoy the victory Tuesday night, then begin preparing for a matchup next round possibly against the always tough Kitchener Panthers. The Panthers blanked the Hamilton Cardinals to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, and push the Cardinals to the brink of elimination. It is yet to be determined when the 2nd round will begin for the Majors, or who their opponents will be. One thing is for certain, London has their collective eyes on the prize, a championship. The fact that there was not much hooting and hollering in the post game celebrations, is a sign of the focus and determination of this team. The growth in maturity for Chanderdat’s Majors, is an indication that nothing short of a 2017 IBL title, will suffice.