Epic six-run ninth-inning comeback leads to second straight win for Jackfish

By Rod Mawhood • Photo by Steven Ruddy 

WELLAND- It's an age-old debate. Should you or shouldn't leave a sporting event early? Well the Welland Jackfish proved you shouldn't, after scoring six runs in an epic ninth-inning comeback, and an 8-7 win over the defending Intercounty Baseball League champion London Majors. 

The Jackfish opened a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, only to give up five runs, three earned, in the fifth. London would increase its lead to 7-1 in the 8th inning. Welland would cut that lead to five runs in the bottom of the eight before the ninth inning dramatics. Sam Cawker would lead off the inning with a walk, before Tyson Gomm and Gio Morello struck out. 

With two outs, Eric Marriott would walk followed by a Brandon Nicholson two-run double that cut the Majors lead to 7-4. An error on a ground ball would eventually allow Nicholson to score, and move Mattingly Romanin to second base. Hogan Brown was issued a walk to put Jackfish on first and second. Another London error would allow Romanin to score, and leave Tyler Dupuis on first and Brown on third with the scoreboard now reading  7-6 for the visitors. 

Enter fan favourite Matt Hilderbrandt, and on a (1-2) count the big man delivered with a sharp single past a diving first baseman, and into right-field. Both Brown and Dupuis scored as the 737 fans at Welland Stadium roared with approval. 

Hilderbrandt was mobbed by his teammates and received the well-deserved Gatorade shower in an 8-7 final. "Unbelievable comeback win." Jackfish Manager Brian Essery said. 

"We kept fighting and got it done. I'm really proud of the team, great character win. To beat the defending champs is a great team win." 

Edmonton, Alberta native Wyatt Hummell picked up the victory in relief. As for his thoughts on Hilderbrandt's clutch ninth-inning hit, Essery offered this with a smile: "The Hildy legend continues to grow in Welland. I'm so happy for him, he deserves it.  I loved the fight in all of our players." 

The (2-0) Jackfish now host the Hamilton Cardinals Thursday night at The Pond. First pitch flies at 7:30 pm. Tickets are on sale now. 

Jackfish Jottings: Six straight Welland batters faced (3-2 counts) in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was Jackfish mascot Jacques birthday at the park as a number of local mascots joined the party.