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Export date: Sun Mar 3 14:50:42 2024 / +0000 GMT
By JIM STEWART
The Bolton Brewers found lightning in a bottle in Game 5 on Saturday afternoon in New Lowell as their potent offence came back to life in an emphatic 8-2 victory over the Knights to stave off elimination.
However, those same bats that carried the Brewers to a big road win on Saturday did not travel home with them on Sunday as Bolton dropped a narrow 3-1 decision to the Knights in Game 6 of the NDBL championship.
With Sunday's win, the Knights defended their 2022 championship and won their second consecutive Strother Cup—emblematic of North Dufferin Baseball League Senior Division supremacy.
Brewers Player-Coach Mike Wallace gave credit to Knights' starting pitcher Brandon Norrie who threw a complete game title-clinching gem on Sunday.
“Norrie stifled us this afternoon. He had all his pitches working.”
Wallace, who banged out two hits for his club and collected Bolton's only RBI in Game 6, tasted defeat for the second straight championship Final at the hands of the Knights. However, the veteran Brewer player and coach declared the 2023 season a success for his ball club and applauded his own pitching staff's heroic efforts.
“Our pitching was the heart and soul of the team. I thought we had great success this season. We took first place in the season. We worked hard in the final series, and lost two games in extra innings to a very good ball club. It was a close series and we defeated good teams like the Ivy Rangers to get to the Finals.”
Veteran Knight Steve Bowman was named the Championship Series MVP. Bowman had two hits and an RBI in the Cup-clinching game and contributed two hits in a losing cause in Game 5 on Saturday afternoon.
Game 6 opened on a promising note for the Brewers who were attempting to tie the series 3-3 and send the championship to a Game 7 to be played as the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon.
The Brewers took a 1-0 first inning lead when veteran three-spot hitter Mike Wallace drilled a ball over third base to plate the speedy Drew Volkey who had drawn a one-out walk.
The Brewers held their one-run lead for three innings, but the Knights tied the game at the top of the fourth when MVP Bowman lined a clutch two-out single to right field.
The Brewers-Knights contest—played in optimal late-September conditions featuring a “Simpsons Sky” and a warm southwest breeze – evolved into an old-fashioned pitching duel with Brewers' starter Aaron Dzib and Knights ace Norrie controlling the game from the mound.
The score remained 1-1 until the top of the sixth when the Knights executed some effective small ball and timely extra-base power to take the lead.
Dale Lightheart got aboard with a lead-off single, advanced on a perfect sacrifice bunt, Bowman was hit by a bounced pitch, and Tanner Zeggil laced a double to the warning track in right field to give New Lowell their go-ahead and winning run.
The Knights tacked on an insurance run at the top of the seventh when they took advantage of a three-base error by the Brewers to cash Nick Guthrie who had drawn a walk and scored from first on a wild overthrow that bounded along the right field fence line.
Trailing by two runs at the bottom of the seventh, Brewers second baseman Amin Juarez delivered a timely lead-off single through the hole between short and second to inspire the Brewers' faithful gathered at North Hill.
Thoughts of a big walk-off win were scuttled, however, as Norrie bore down as he did all series.
The dominant right-hander induced a ground ball fielder's choice to erase Juarez from the base-paths and then struck out two Brewers to claim a complete game championship victory.
Norrie scattered four hits, struck out six Brewers, and walked only one in a masterful performance.
His counterpart, Aaron Dzib, delivered a quality start for the Brewers. He struck out seven Knights and allowed only two earned runs in his complete game seven-inning performance.
On Saturday in New Lowell, the Brewers' bats boomed as they did in their emphatic 12-0 win in Game 2 and as they did through most of the 2023 campaign. The Brewers led 3-2 after three innings and put up a 5-spot in the fifth inning featuring John Hutchinson's three-run homer that chased Knights' starter Nick Hodgson.
Brett Chater and Amin Juarez scored two runs each to pace the Brewers' offence.
Hutchinson collected 3 RBIs to lead the Brewers with Chris Falalios and Carter Burnside driving in two runs each. Bolton ace Victor Moguel threw a complete game two-hitter and pitched to contact effectively to extend his team's season.
“Wait'll next year” will have to be off-season battle cry for the 2023 Bolton Brewers who have come up just a bit short in their last two championship series versus New Lowell.
The third time will have to be the charm.
As Ernest Lawrence Thayer noted in “Casey at the Bat, “The rest clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast.” The faithful Brewers' fans and players gathered at North Hill Park on Sunday afternoon will ride that hope into the 2024 NDBL season.
Post date: 2023-09-28 11:49:45
Post date GMT: 2023-09-28 15:49:45
Post modified date: 2023-09-28 11:49:48
Post modified date GMT: 2023-09-28 15:49:48
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