The Niagara Metros’ outstanding 2014 season came to a disappointing end yesterday in Milton. The Metros won their first game, but then dropped two straight to be eliminated from the Central Ontario Major Baseball Playoffs, and end their bid to become the first Playoff “3-peat team” since 1990. On Saturday, the teams played through a mixture of rain/mist/cold, and Niagara split a pair of games…winning 12-4 over Oakville, before dropping a 7-4 decision against Erindale. Then Sunday, under bright skies, the Metros were shut down by the Burlington Brants to the tune of a 4-2 count, thus ending their season.
In Saturday’s 12-4 win over Oakville, Niagara gave up 3 first-inning runs, and trailed 4-1 going into the bottom of the 2nd. But the Metros batted around to score 7 times in that decisive 2nd, and won going away. Geoff Strong started and went the distance to pick up the win for Niagara. Strong bent, but didn’t break, as he settled in after a rocky first couple of innings. The righthander gave up 4 runs, on 9 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 7. Marc Walton was the starter and loser for Oakville.
Niagara was, once again, led by Dave Davidson, who has been on an incredible roll since the Elimination Tourney two weeks ago. Davidson clubbed a Grand Slam HR and an RBI-single for a 5-RBI day. Chris Pickles added 3 hits and 3 RBI’s to the Metros’ offense, while Jono Marcheterre doubled and singled. Andrew Sorochan and Chris Anderi singled twice each, while Jonathan Paul rounded out Niagara’s 12-hit offense with a single. Anthony Vacca drove in two runs with a pair of Sac Flies. Jeff Jarockis hit a 2-run double and a single to lead the A’s attack.
The win over Oakville put the Metros’ into a 2nd round game against the Erindale Cardinals, who defeated the Milton Red Sox in game 1. Niagara sent Paul McKenna to the hill for the last time, as he is set to leave for the National Championships with Mississauga on Wednesday. But the Cardinals were up to the challenge on this day. With the wind blowing out, they clubbed three HR’s off the Metros’ talented righthander…the first HR’s allowed all season by the Metros’ “ace”. McKenna’s final line read: 4 innings, 7 runs, 9 hits, 2 walks, and 2 K’s. Dan Veres relieved McKenna in the 5th, and tossed 3 innings of shutout relief, giving up 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 2. Dan Estey went the distance to pick up the win for Erindale.
Jon Amendola hit a pair of HR’s for the Cardinals, while Chris Novia added the other. John DeWolfe and Geoff Cullen singled twice each. For Niagara, Davidson was again the catalyst, clubbing yet another HR (a 2-run shot) and a single. It was the 4th straight game that Davidson has homered, and increased his season total to 12. Andrew Sorochan hit a pair of singles, while Jonathan Paul cracked an RBI-double. Jono Marcheterre also doubled, while Chris Anderi, Anthony Vacca, Ricky Ferri and Taylor Anderson all singled. Chris Pickles added an RBI-groundout.
The loss versus Erindale, meant Niagara would have to make a return trip to Milton on Sunday to take on the Burlington Brants, with the winner advancing to next weekend’s “Final Four” tourney. And while Niagara got some good pitching from Brandon Beattie and Lukas Burch, the offense couldn’t solve Brant’s starter Trevor Woodjetts. The final was 4-2 for Burlington. Woodjetts went the distance, allowing two runs and 7 hits, while striking out 8. Beattie started for the Metros and went the first 4 1/3 innings, allowing 4 runs (2 earned). He gave up just 4 hits…but 5 walks and 2 errors by the Metros’ infield, sealed his fate. Burch came in and tossed 2 and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing no hits, 2 walks, and striking out 1.
Rob Spiak and Brock Marshall each had RBI-singles to lead the Brants. Anthony Vacca hit a pair of doubles to pace the Metros’ 7-hit offense, while Chris Pickles added a pair of singles and an RBI. Chris Anderi doubled, Jono Marcheterre chipped in with an RBI-single, and Jonathan Paul added a single. Burlington, with the win, joined Etobicoke, Erindale, and Brampton as the competitors in next weekend’s C.O.M.B.L. Playoff Championship.
As for the Metros, the loss to Burlington meant that their 2014 season ended in disappointing fashion. However, in looking back, the team did have one of it’s best years ever. The team’s 31-13-1 record was the 2nd best, in terms of winning percentage, in their history. They won their (league record) 14th Johnson Division title, as well as the Vaughan Tournament Championship, back in June. And their 12-2 record over the course of their three 2014 tournaments is the best in the team’s history, as well.