The St. Thomas catcher delivers a game winning home run in a 6-4 win
over Appin in game two of the South Middlesex Men's Fastball final
Friday, October 4, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
APPIN, ON. - All night Brady Stafford took a beating from the ball while behind home plate.
But the St. Thomas Storm catcher delivered the biggest blow of the game, sending the guilty one over the fence for a three run homer, leading way to a 6-4 win over the Appin A's and a two games to none lead in the South Middlesex men's fastball final.
St. Thomas trailed 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning, with Appin one out away from tying the best of five game affair.
Jason Dawdy pinch hitting and Mark Coleman kept the Storm alive, with back to back clutch two-out singles. That ended the night for A's starting pitcher Greg Moore and brought in Jeff Lyons to face Stafford.
"I just really wanted to get to the next guy, after (Dawdy) and Coley had great at bats with two outs to keep it going," said Stafford. "I got one there that ended up being the big one. Second pitch was a rise ball that happened to hit the right part of the bat."
In game one, Stafford's grand slam led the Storm to a 9-1 mercy of the A's.
"I'm glad, but any other day it'll be someone else with this team," Stafford said. "It just happened in back to back games it fell on my shoulders."
After suffering a bruising from tipped balls or blocking pitches while behind the plate, Stafford enjoyed sending one over the left centre fence.
"I don't know what it is about this park, but this is the most I've ever been hit in a game. It just made that hit a little sweeter," Stafford said. "To come out with the win is the biggest thing.
"There's going to be a lot of ice on this body tonight tough."
Stafford finished the game with five RBIs, including two in the third inning on a two-run double that gave the Storm a 3-1 lead.
Appin got a run back in the home half of the third and jumped ahead 4-3 in the fifth inning. The A's went ahead on a lead-off walk to Lyons, back to back bunts from Paul Johnson and Kevin Eichenberger and a wild pitch that allowed Johnson to score.
"The boys didn't let down but you could see a little change in the tenseness," St. Thomas manager Tom Edie said. "We made a change putting Jason Dawdy in and he extended that inning. What can you say about a veteran hitter doing that? Then Coleman got it to Brady for the dramatics."
A double play and the pitching of Greg Moore, who struck out eight batters, stifled the Storm offence in four of the innings. Three times, the Storm stranded a lead-off hit.
Dan Beecroft started for the Storm, going three innings, giving up two runs, three singles, a base on balls, hit a batter and struck out four.
Ben Hodgins, who picks up the win, worked four innings, surrendering two runs, four singles and two walks, while striking out four batters.
Age was a factor in splitting the game between the two pitchers.
"That was the plan. I rather start (Beecroft) then get Ben warm later. A 47-year old getting warm in cold weather is tough, so I made the young guy do it," laughed Edie.
Coleman went three for three, drew an intentional walk and scored twice. Aaron Gould had a double and a walk, in three plate appearances.
The ever dangerous Lyons at the plate, slapped out a single and accepted three passes to first base.
"When he did get on, they scored. When he got on base in game one, they scored," Edie said. "We have to keep him off. He's their best player. He's the best player in the league. We have an approach for him and so far it's working, sort of. We've kept him in the yard."
Fletcher and Eichenberger had a pair of singles for Appin.
The series stays in Appin, for game three, Monday, October 7th, at 8 p.m. Game four, if necessary, is Tuesday, October 8th, 8 p.m., in Fingal.
"We're in the driver's seat but we're not done," Edie said. "The last one is the hardest to win."
In last year's semifinals, the A's rallied from down two games, to defeat the Highgate Rock in five games.