Crafty Corrente keeps Welland Jackfish alive in IBL semifinal; Hamilton Cardinals down 2-0


Published September 6, 2022 at 10:52 pm

Rich Corrente turned back the clock to make sure the Welland Jackfish can play another day.

The Jackfish, led by their lefty off-speeder stifling the dinger-happy Toronto Maple Leafs while throwing a 142-pitch complete game, have earned a Game 4 in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) semifinal. The throwback effort spurred Welland to a 10-2 win at “The Pond” on Tuesday night to pare Toronto’s lead to 2-1 in the best-of-five series. (One hundred pitches, or even less, is the norm for starting pitchers at the upper echelons of baseball.)

While Corrente was tying up hitters with his curveball, nos. 8 and 9 hitters Hogan Brown and Zarley Cina bent the game to their will. Brown (pictured, top) scored four runs whilst going 3-for-4 with one RBI, while Cina had a 2-for-3 night that included a two-RBI triple. That long hit broke the game open at 8-2 in the seventh inning. Justin Gideon, the IBL home run champion, was 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI.

Welland will have to win two more do-or-done games to reach their first IBL final. The teams will do it all again at Dominico Field at Christie Pits on Wednesday (Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m.). A potential Game 5 would take place at Welland Stadium on Thursday.

The Hamilton Cardinals trail the London Majors 2-0 in the other IBL semifinal. London’s two wins at home, by a combined 20-3 tally, were sandwiched around a rainout in Hamilton on Sunday. Hamilton hosts a do-or-done Game 3 at Bernie Arbour Stadium on Wednesday (7:35 p.m., Hamilton Cardinals YouTube channel).

Jackfish pitchers got touched up for 29 runs, 71 total bases and 11 home runs by Toronto during the series’ first two games. But Corrente, who has been with the franchise since its Burlington Bandits days, kept the contact soft and kept Toronto in the yard, spacing out 11 hits and three bases on balls, while striking out seven.

Pitching to contact and keeping his fielders engaged is Corrente’s jam. Since 2021, he has averaged just a relatively low 4.3 strikeouts per nine innings, yet still had a nearly 3-to-1 whiff-to-walk ratio.

Toronto flickered to life in the later innings, getting the go-ahead run to bat in the sixth. But Corrente induced a popout from veteran Damon Topolie to end the threat, and Welland scored in each of the next three frames.

Brown scored three of the first five Jackfish runs. His third, which opened a 5-2 lead in the sixth, came without a batted ball going more than 150 feet. Brown got hit by a pitch, took second base on a passed ball and reached third after back-to-back walks. Gideon flew out to shallow left field and actually flung down his bat after an apparent lost scoring opportunity, but Brown tagged up and scored to complete a sacrifice fly.

Maple Leafs lefthander Zach Sloan, a Brampton native, was tagged with the pitching loss after allowing two runs in the first two innings.

Cardinals on the brink

Hamilton hung in with London, whom the Cardinals have not beaten this season, for 5½ innings during an 8-2 defeat on Tuesday.

Cardinals two-way player Ryan Burnside pitched into the sixth inning, and was one strike away from holding London’s lead at two runs. But he plunked No. 9 hitter Keith Kandel on a 1-and-2 pitch, flipping the order for the Majors. Leadoff hitter Jakob Newton, of Oakville, and then Taylor Wright followed with run-scoring hits for London that stretched the scoreline to 6-1.

Burnside allowed six runs and nine hits over six innings. London’s Owen Boon held Hamilton to three hits and one unearned run over seven innings.

Tyler Duncan, who had the best batting slash (.383 on-base, .503 slugging) of anyone who wore Cardinals’ red all season, was 2-for-3 with one run and one stolen base. Oakville native Jeremie Veilleux, who is on-basing .400 in the playoffs, scored the other Cardinals’ run.

Hamilton would host Game 4 on Friday, if the Cardinals can win tomorrow night.

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