Jackfish wrap up first place
The Welland Jackfish head into the Intercounty Baseball League playoffs on a high after securing first place overall with a win in Barrie Sunday afternoon.
The Jackfish topped the Baycats 8-4 to run their record to 29-10 with three games remaining in the regular season.
“Obviously, our goal was to finish first and get the top seed for the playoffs,” Jackfish manager Brian Essery said.
The pennant was the first in franchise history.
“This group has made this season the best one yet, but we aren’t done. It’s time to win the whole freakin’ thing,” team president Ryan Harrison said. “This was a true team effort. I’m very proud of the franchise, and for our fan base.”
The Jackfish, who have won four in a row, put together two memorable winning streaks this season of 14 and 10 games.
“We got off to a good start with a 14-game winning streak. Everything was clicking at the point,” Essery said. “Our bats were clicking, our pitching was behind a little bit behind our bats. Subsequently, that streak ended and we started another 10-gamer and the roles reversed, our pitching was keeping us in games and winning games for us and our bats have scuffled a little bit.
“Hopefully, prior to the playoffs we can get both of them rolling again. I’m confident our pitching is going to stay the way it is with the pitchers we have, we just need to concentrate on having better at bats and putting some more runs on the board.”
Essery said he’s not adverse to manufacturing runs if it comes to that.
“Maybe that’s something we’ll have to do in certain games, play a little more small ball against certain pitchers and being a little more aggressive on the base paths,” he said.
Essery said the Jackfish have felt like the hunted at times this season.
“When we were scuffling, it wasn’t like we were scuffling against bad teams. Barrie and Kitchener, they’re good teams and they’ve thrown their top guys against us. We’ve seen their best arms and they’re good teams.
“At the end of the day, we’re still happy with our performance throughout the season.”
Essery also pointed to team chemistry as a huge factor this season.
“We’ve had to make some decisions to move guys in and out. And the moves we’ve made have been good, especially on the mound. We’ve brought in three or four guys but we’ve got such a strong leadership group that the room is really good. They’re really tight and they all like each other and get along. There haven’t been any issues all year.”
Welland hosts the Brantford Red Sox Thursday night and the London Majors Saturday evening to close out the home portion of the regular season. They are in Hamilton Sunday for their final game before the playoffs, which begin next week.
The playoff format consists of a best-of-five series for the first two rounds followed by a best-of-seven set for the final.
Essery has high sights set high.
“We want to win every game,” he said. “We know that is unrealistic at the end of the day. Baseball is a finicky game. It’s not like any other sport where you can pretty much predict who’s going to win on any given night. This sport is real tough to consistently win. A lot of factors have to go your way and obviously, pitching is the key. Pitching and defence wins in the playoffs and we have the best pitching and defence in the league. No doubt about it.”
For ticket information, visit: http://www.wellandjackfish.com/tix
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