Ninth inning dramatics lift Jackfish to victory

By ROD MAWHOOD • Photo by CJH Sports Photography

After being held to just two hits over the first eight innings, the Welland Jackfish delivered when they needed to, rallying in the ninth for a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Wilson Alvarado was masterful for the Maple Leafs, throwing eight shutout innings of two-hit, three-strikeout baseball. 

Enter Leafs reliever Julian Valdez. 

Sam Cawker would lead off the ninth inning for Welland with a walk. 

Next up, James Smibert who singled to center-field, advancing Cawker to second. 

McCoy Pearce would then step into the batter's box with two men on and none out. 

Valdez would uncork a wild pitch advancing Cawker to third and Smibert to second, and on a (3-2) pitch Pearce would deliver with a 2-run double to right centre-field as the Jackfish players swarmed the field for the Gatorade shower, and the 1,308 fans in the stands roared in approval. 

Deivy Mendez picked up the win in relief, after starter Jake Harford pitched seven solid innings of one-run, seven-strikeout baseball, followed by a strong eighth inning of work from reliever Brandon Underhill. 

"Our pitching was great," proclaimed Welland Manager Brian Essery. "Exactly the start we needed from Jake, and Underhill and Deivy kept the score at 1-0 to give us a chance.

We didn't execute at the plate until the ninth (inning), we'll have to clean that up but very well done in the ninth." 

The Jackfish improved to an IBL best (17-6) on the season with the victory, and now hit the road visiting the Kitchener Panthers Sunday afternoon in a 5:15 pm first pitch.