Kitchener looked to sweep Hamilton out of the playoffs on Tuesday night, but in the early hours of Wednesday the Cardinals defeated the Panthers 16-12 in 14 innings. A ninth inning rally by Hamilton forced the game into extra innings where the Cardinals scored four times to win the game. The teams combined for 43 hits in what fans have called an instant IBL playoff classic that took just over five hours to play.
For the first time in the series the Panthers got on the board first, capitalizing on a couple Hamilton errors in the first. Tanner Nivins led off the inning with a double and then scored when Scott David reached on an error. Sean Reilly would then single before David Whiteside moved runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt. Jeff Pietraszko would then reach on the second error of the inning by the Cardinals, which allowed David to score and put Kitchener up 2-0 after one inning.
Hamilton responded in the top of the second, scoring three times. Zack Sardellitti, Anthony Rizquez and Lucas Pattison all hit two-out singles with a run scoring on Pattison’s hit to cut the lead in half. Marcus Dicenzo would plate two runs with a triple and give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead after an inning and a half.
In the fourth Hamilton doubled their run total. Anthony Rizquez led off with a walk while Pattison and Dicenzo each singled to load the bases before there were any outs in the inning. John Solazzo then took a one-out walk to bring in the first run of the inning. Jon Saporsantos then sent a fly ball to left to score Pattison. Dan Jagdeo would then single to put Hamilton up 6-2.
Kitchener would storm right back in the fourth to retake the lead. Bryon Bell doubled, later scoring on a fielder’s choice by Mike Glinka. Nivins and David would follow that up singles to load the bases before Reilly got a hold of a pitch for a grand slam and a 7-6 lead on the Cardinals.
The Cardinals would once again put three runs on the board, this time in the sixth inning. Dicenzo would lead off with a single and advance to second on an Andris Rizquez walk. Solazzo would then single in Dicenzo to tie the game. Both runners would move up a base before Saporsantos hit his second sacrifice fly to bring in the go ahead run. Solazzo would also score in the inning as Kitchener’s Matt Vickers let loose with a wild pitch.
Hamilton would get into trouble in the bottom of the seventh as the Panthers sent nine batters to the plate and scored five times to take the lead. Jeff Pietraszko would double to open the inning and then scored on a Bryon Bell single. Bell would then score on a two-out single by Glinka to tie the game. After a Nivins walk, David would single in a run and then both he and Nivins would score on Reilly’s double to lead Hamilton 12-9 after seven innings.
The Cardinals wouldn’t give up though without a fight. With two outs in the top of the ninth and Dicenzo on base by way of a fielder’s choice, the Cardinals would load the bases with back-to-back singles by Andris Rizquez and Solazzo. Dicenzo would score on a wild pitch before Jon Saporsantos walked to load the bases. Jagdeo would then double to bring in the tying runs. Hamilton looked to take the lead on the play but pinch runner Mitch Gardiner was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Kitchener would get a single and an intentional walk in the bottom half of the inning but they were unable to walk it off as the teams headed to extra innings.
Each team had a chance to win the game early on as they had runners in scoring position. The Panthers had the best chance with a runner on third and one out in the 11th inning but they were unable to score.
It wasn’t until the top of the 14th inning that any runs were scored. Dicenzo led off with a walk and moved to second on a walk issued to Solazzo. Tanner Guindon would then single in his first plate appearance all year to load the bases. For the second time in the game, the Cardinals would score on a wild pitch, this time giving them the lead. Jagdeo was then intentionally walked to put a runner on each base with one out. Sardellitti would then reach base on an error and bring in a second run for Hamilton.
It got worse for the Panthers. With two outs already on the board and two strikes on Anthony Rizquez the Panthers would strike him out but the ball got away from the catcher to allow a run to score and Anthony to reach base. Pattison would then single to put the Cardinals up 16-12 heading to the bottom of the 14th.
Whiteside would lead off the Panther half of the 14th with a single and was followed by a Pietraszko walk to put runners at first and second. However, Hamilton would get a couple of fly outs and a strikeout to end the marathon and force a fourth game in the series.
For the Cardinals, Brett van Pelt went six and two-thirds innings, allowing 11 runs, one of which was unearned, on 14 hits, walking one and striking out three. Matt Martinow would take over and go five and third innings allowing a run on seven hits and walking three batters. Solazzo would go the final two innings for the win, allowing two hits, a walk and striking out one.
For Kitchener, Matt McGovern went three and two-thirds innings, giving up six runs on seven hits, walking four batters and striking out two. Matt Vickers would relieve McGovern and go two innings, allowing three runs, two of which were earned, on three hits, walking two and striking out one. Adam Echlin then took the mound for an inning and a third, giving up a hit and striking out two.
The parade from the Panthers’ bullpen continued as Russell Luxton came on to pitch the eighth, facing four batters, giving up a walk and striking out one. Whiteside would then move to the mound and go four innings, allowing three runs on six hits, walking one and striking out three. Andrulis then took a turn to pitch, facing three batters in the 13th inning, striking out two batter. Mike Gatchene would then come on for the 14th inning and give up four runs, only one was earned, on three hits, walking two and striking out two to take the loss.
Both teams will get a few hours of sleep and then get ready for game four scheduled for Wednesday night at Bernie Arbour Stadium in Hamilton starting at 7:30 p.m.