Johnson's homer lifts Glencoe to a 5-3 win in the SMMFL semifinal
September 15, 2022
By Rob J. Ross
FINGAL, Ont. - The St. Thomas Storm are looking for a few clutch hits.
On three occasions the Storm stranded runners in scoring position, during a 5-3 loss to the Glencoe Astros, in game three of the South Middlesex Men's Fastball League semifinal, under the lights Wednesday.
Glencoe now leads the best of five series, two games to one, heading back to Glencoe Friday, for game four.
"We have to hit. The game is mostly about hitting these days," St. Thomas manager Tom Edie said. "We get decent pitching. We get decent defence, but we have to get hits. It comes down to clutch hits."
The Storm left five runners on second or third base, hit in to double plays twice and three times, had their lead-off batter reach base, but fail to score.
"When we're successful we get those two out hits. Those clutch hits when we need them. It hasn't been happening, but I have a feeling it'll start happening," said Edie. "There is a lot of character on this ball team."
Bryan Johnson had the highlight of the game, a three-run homer in the fifth inning, to give Glencoe a 5-3 lead.
"It was exciting. I was happy to get a pitch I could hit and did something with it," said Johnson, who also hit one out in game two. "It felt good. It was a team effort. The two guys (Steve Lyons, Calvin) in front of me got on and I got lucky and hit the ball."
St. Thomas looked to regain the lead in the sixth, when their first two batters of the inning reached base. But their next batter lined out and the Astros caught the runner off the base at first, for a quick two outs.
Glencoe turned another double play in the seventh inning.
"It was a real scrappy win and puts us in a real good position for the rest of the series," Johnson said. "Our pitchers came to pitch. We played some good defence and had a big double play in the seventh inning. A good turn between Steve Lyons and Adam Fletcher."
The Astros jumped out to a 2-0 lead, in the first inning, led by a Cole Pavey RBI single, before the Storm knotted the game, in the home at bat. Chris Wismer singled and scored on a Jay Schnarr triple, before Brady Stafford singled in Schnarr.
In the third inning, Jeff Wilcox tripled and then
scored on a throwing error, putting St. Thomas up, 3-2.
Injuries are literally hurting the Storm, the reigning champions, having won the title in 2019, the last year the playoffs occurred, due being cancelled twice because of the COVID pandemic.
Jason Dawdy, their number four hitter and a pitcher, is out with a broken ankle, suffered at the Masters Canadians. Mark Coleman is limited to pinch hitting duties, due to a hamstring issue. Wilcox and Wismer are just coming back from injuries and are not 100 per cent.
"We're hurting. We have a lot of injuries," said Edie. "Those are big holes to fill and I've been looking for guys to step up. It's been hit and miss. We have to win Friday."
The Storm were also without Mitch Roy, who had a three-run homer is game one, a 5-1 win.
Glencoe tied the series, taking game two, 7-2, powered by Johnson's first home run of the series.
"They're (Storm) a tough team. They're real veteran," said Johnson, who finished two-for-three and scored twice. "It'll be tough to close out the series, but we have a good team and have a real shot at it. We have to show up and be ready to go right off the bat."
Wismer and Schnarr, were both two-for-three.
Pitcher Greg Moore picked up the win, with Pavey relieving the starter in the sixth inning. Storm's Dan Beecroft took the loss, despite striking out seven batters over his five innings worked.
The series winner faces the Alvinston Aces in the final. The Aces swept the Highgate Rock in three games.