It is official, the Kitchener Panthers will take on the Brantford Red Sox in the first round of the IBL postseason.
Game 1 of the best-of-three will go Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Couch Park, and just because Kitchener swept the five-game season series, the field manager knows the playoffs are a different beast.
"One mistake could cost you the whole series," said Panthers manager Don Menard, "(But) I think we'll be fine."
He said the team is pretty healthy, b
ut the Panthers will go into it on a two-game losing skid.
They dropped the season finale 13-7 against the top ranked London Majors Sunday afternoon at Jack Couch Park.
Five batters into the top of the first, London had already taken a 4-0 lead.
They kept cruising from there, taking advantage of a shorthanded Panthers squad, who were not only pitching a bullpen day, but also kept guys like Liam Wilson and Elliott Curtis out of the lineup to rest ahead of the postseason.
Menard said he wasn't worried about finishing second or third, noting Kitchener would be playing either Hamilton or Brantford, both tough teams in their own right.
Luis Grisanti was saddled with the loss, going three innings and surrendering seven runs on seven hits. He recorded three strikeouts and one walk.
Michael Mommersteeg, Nathan Laird, Ryan Douglas and David Bruinsma also made appearances on the mound in the loss.
Nick Carrell struck out eight in seven innings of work for London.
He gave up four runs on seven hits, and didn't walk anyone.
On offense, Andy Leader continued with the hot bat for Kitchener, hitting two solo home runs Sunday. He finished the season with four home runs, all in the last five games.
By comparison, Leader hit six home runs between 2017 and 2019, playoffs included.
Stephen Whalen hit his second home run of the year, and pitcher Jorden Carthy, who was playing in right field, also hit the long ball.
The Panthers bench was kept so short, that Matt Stoddart, who hasn't had a plate appearance since 2018 in college, was the designated hitter.
Cleveland Brownlee, Hayden Jaco and Evan Britt all went long for London.