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Panthers eliminated from IBL postseason

The Kitchener Panthers couldn't solve Brantford when it mattered most, ending their postseason after a two-game sweep
panthers in brantford
Kitchener Panthers second baseman Keegan Marsden watches a Red Sox baserunner during Game 2 of the 2021 IBL quarterfinals in Brantford.

On paper, it seemed the Brantford Red Sox would be a great matchup.

A season series sweep, where the Kitchener Panthers outscored the Sox 55-27 through five games.

But Kitchener found out the hard way that the playoffs are nothing like the regular season, as the Sox dispatched the Panthers in a two-game sweep, capped by a 4-2 decision in Brantford Saturday night.

For Brantford, pitching was the story in Game 2.  Adam Jefine went the full nine innings, striking out 16 batters and only gave up four hits.

"Like I told you Thursday, if you drop the first one and run into a pitcher whose hot...he's a good pitcher," said Panthers manager Don Menard.

"He's been around and he's been in the league and he can bring it, and he did.  He held us to two runs."

The two runs scored for the Panthers came on the same play in the fourth, a throwing error by the Red Sox catcher on a dropped third strike ended up in the outfield with two men on base.

This tied the game at two, but the Red Sox responded with a run in both the sixth and the eighth, and that was it.

The four Panthers hits came off of two bats.  Andy Leader went two-for-three, while Keegan Marsden was two-for-four.

"Our hitters battled all night," Menard said, "We had our chances, we had the bases loaded a couple of times and (Jefine) stepped it up and got his outs."

"And then (Brantford) got the key hits when they needed the key hits."

Menard said his pitching threw well too, and noted a few of the Red Sox hits were bloopers that dropped in the right spot.

"Nobody really barrelled anything up all night, but you have to be perfect at times," he said, "Tonight, they got a couple of hits and they get the key hit to score the two runs early and then late, they tacked on the two runs."

Stephen Gade gave up three runs (one earned) on six hits, striking out four and walked four in five and two thirds innings.

Despite the loss, Menard said he's proud of what his team accomplished.

"We had to start with a new, young core," he said, "Except for Geoff Moroz, we don't have a guy over 26.  We have 13 guys that could've still played 22U this year.  It's good going forward."

He also showed pride for how the group came together as an all Ontario-based group, not one player from the U.S., out west or from the Caribbean.

"Yeah, I would've loved to have our four Cuban players that are usually here because then you have two stud pitchers, a shortstop and a stud reliever but they weren't, but we did well," Menard said.

"It's going to happen, it's going to be growing pains with young guys, and (Jefine)'s one of the better pitchers that they're going to face for a while.  They'll learn from it and we'll grow for next year."

And Menard is already looking toward next year.

He's planning on taking Sunday off, but has already been in contact with players to come on board for 2022.

"We've already got several commitments for next year that will be announced sometime in November," Menard said, "And they're some big names.  They want to come back and play for Kitchener after playing some pro ball."

He added there were some players that wanted to come to Kitchener for this season, but between jobs and the COVID-19 pandemic, felt uneasy but will be at Jack Couch Park for the spring.

"We've got some good players coming next year, and we've got some good pitchers coming, which is key," Menard said.

"Just want to thank the fans for coming to see us this year, and we'll work hard in the offseason for them for next season."




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