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By Jim Stewart
The Bolton Brewers evened their North Dufferin Baseball League Final Series 1-1 with an emphatic 12-0 Game 2 victory over the Knights on Sunday afternoon at New Lowell Recreation Park.
The Brewers (18-2-2) and Knights (17-4-1) finished 1-2 in the standings after the regular season. The league rivals met in the NDBL Finals in 2022 with New Lowell prevailing four games to three to capture the Strother Cup in a bitterly-contested championship series.
The Knights drew first blood versus the 2023 pennant-winning Brewers in Game 1 of the series when they edged Bolton 4-3 on Saturday in extra innings at North Hill Park.
The Brewers got off to a sluggish start on Saturday afternoon, according to Head Coach Mike Wallace.
“The layoff between the semifinals and finals worked against us, based on how we started Game 1. It was good to refresh after our series wins [against Lisle and Ivy], but we lost some of our momentum and I thought our hitters definitely lost some timing and were guessing during their at-bats. It took us five innings to warm up the bats.”
By the time the Brewers warmed up the bats in Game 1, they were trailing 3-0 after two innings.
However, the home side made a spirited comeback by getting on the scoreboard in the fifth and plated two more runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game and send it to extras in the form of bonus baseball for the Bolton faithful assembled at North Hill.
The Brewers loaded the bases in the home half of the eighth in their final at-bats, but couldn't push the game into extras again.
Brandon Norrie and Sid Beelen led the New Lowell offence with two singles each.
Veteran Player-Coach Wallace had two singles for the Brewers while Brett Chater, Chris Fafalios, Stephen Warden, Amin Juarez, and John Hutchinson each delivered a hit for the Brewers to cue the comeback that came up one run short on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the loss to New Lowell in the opening game, Coach Wallace was pleased that the Brewers lineup made in-game adjustments and he gave credit to Knights' starter Nick Hodgson.
New Lowell's ace threw an eight-inning complete game, scattering seven hits and striking out four Brewers.
“Nick was throwing a great splitter and he was dominant. However, our approaches changed and we stopped lunging at his off-speed pitches. We put them on their heels and almost stole one in eight innings at home on Saturday.”
Wallace noted that his team's change in approach and increased volume of hits not only fueled the comeback in Game 1, but carried over to Game 2 the next day in New Lowell.
“The momentum shifted with us to the second game on Sunday. We were confident and comfortable as hitters. All the good approaches from the late innings of Game 1 carried over. Brett Chater hit a lead-off home run then Drew Volkey hit another home run in the next at-bat and suddenly we're up 2-0 on the road after two batters. We set the tone after those two at-bats.”
In addition to Chater and Volkey leaving the yard to start the game, Stephen Warden joined the Bolton homer parade in the sixth. The Brewers pounded out 16 hits versus the Knights' pitching staff, including starter Steve Baldry who surrendered 10 hits and six runs in six-plus innings and relievers Nic Guthrie and Jake Nicholson who combined to complete the seventh inning—yielding six runs on six hits to the relentless Bolton attack.
Bolton built a 4-0 lead heading into the seventh, but the Brewers put up an eight-spot at the top of the inning to put the game out of reach. The Brewers' offence was led by Brett Chater who delivered a homer and two singles. Drew Volkey and Stephen Warden each chipped in with a home run and single. Logan Hart and Greg Keenan hit two singles. Chris Fafalios, John Hutchinson, Josh Hickey, Nathan Drury, and Mike Bonsignore added singles for the visitors in New Lowell.
In addition to the booming bats in Game 2, Wallace also credited the work of this two starting pitchers to kick off the championship series.
“Aaron and Vic did an amazing job in both games. Aaron threw all eight innings for us on Saturday and we should have supported him more offensively because he deserved to win. Victor threw a complete game for us in Game 2 in New Lowell. You can't expect any more than what we got from our starters over the weekend.”
Brewers' starter Aaron Dzib struck out six Knights and went the distance in a losing cause on Saturday afternoon. He scattered five hits over eight innings. Victor Moguel's timely, complete game shutout of the 2022 champs on Sunday afternoon featured seven strikeouts. The crafty veteran yielded four hits over seven innings and issued three walks to the Knights, but the bats boomed in support of Moguel in New Lowell.
What Coach Wallace received from his ball club for most of Sunday was the potent offensive attack to which he was accustomed over much of the regular season and throughout the playoff series wins over the Lisle Astros and Ivy Rangers. The Brewers definitely packed their big bats when they drove to New Lowell on Sunday. Coach Wallace hopes the big bats are ready to boom in Game 3 on Saturday.
The NDBL Championship Series resumes on Saturday, September 16 at 1:00 at North Hill Park in Bolton at 1:00. Game 4 of the Series switches settings to New Lowell on Sunday, September 17. First pitch will be 1:00 at the New Lowell Recreation Park.
Post date: 2023-09-14 12:56:32
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