Majors Suffer Loss on Cold Opening Day
London Majors BaseballGreg Bowman
The energy of the London community was finally able to descend on Labatt Park Friday evening for the 2019 London Majors home-opener. They kicked off their season against the team that eliminated them in the playoffs last season, the Hamilton Cardinals.
The fans were given something to cheer about in the first inning of the season. The Cardinals’ first batter, Justin Gideon, was caught swinging by Majors’ starting pitcher, Owen Boon for the first strikeout of 2019. Hamilton’s next batter, Chris Beer, got ahold of a Boon delivery, lining it to centrefield, forcing Robert Doyle to make an impressive diving catch. Boon finished his first inning of work with another strikeout.
After a hitless first inning, the Cardinals struck in the second. After Connor Bowie advanced to first on a throwing error, Luke Tevlin smacked a single to right field, advancing Bowie to third while advancing to second himself with one out. Boon forced the next batter, Mike Ceechetto to ground out to second, but Bowie scored for the first run of the game. The Majors’ local hurler struck out Laine Renaud for his third K to end the second inning, only giving up one run despite having two runners in scoring position.
The Majors responded in the bottom half of the inning. Mike Ambrose led off with a walk, then Evan Britt sent him home from first base with an RBI double for London’s first run of 2019.
London continued their offensive momentum into the third inning, loading the bases with a walk, a single and a reach via error with none out. Robert Doyle reached home after Mike Ambrose was hit by a pitch to give them a 2-1 lead, but it was the lone run they were able to get as they left the bases loaded.
The Cardinals got back into things in the fifth inning. With two outs, Connor Patterson hit a double to the wall, which was followed by another double by Justin Gideon to tie the game 2-2.
In the top of the sixth inning, Owen Boon began to fade. He finished pitching 5.2 innings giving up six hits and two earned runs and struck out seven in a no decision. Manager Roop Chanderdat then went to an ace up his sleeve. After hitting out of the second spot, Ismael Peña was sent to the mound for a relief pitching appearance, giving the first two-way display of the season. He did what was expected of him, getting the third out with a called strikeout.
Peña stumbled in the next inning though, hitting a batter then walking three more to bring across the go-ahead run for the Cardinals. The Montreal pitcher/hitter only gave up the lone run while the bases were loaded though, recording his third strikeout of the game to end the top of the seventh inning.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Cardinals tacked on four more runs, roughing up Peña for two runs then tagging Sean Hood-Tidman with a two-RBI double.
The four-spot in the top of the eighth proved too much to overcome, as the Hamilton Cardinals spoiled the 2019 home-opener with a 7-2 final.
The Majors will hit the road on Sunday for a date with the five-time defending champion Barrie Baycats.
Photography by: Navaneeth Mohan