Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hamilton ITL team’s playoff future up for grabs

"Hamilton ITL Team's Playoff Future up for Grabs"
By Dom Nicastro / HW Chronicle

The playoff picture with for the Intertown Twilight Baseball League comes with about 1,000 scenarios in the final week or so of play.
A loss can move a team out of the playoffs, before another outcome of another game puts them back in. Too close to call. Too many scenarios. For Hamilton, there’s only one thing to do. “Basically we need to win to get in,” said Hamilton player/manager Tom Jones.

Heading into Tuesday’s game at first-place Manchester Essex, Hamilton was 10-10 with four games left. That put them in fifth place and out of the playoffs. Ipswich was a game ahead in the fourth and final spot at 11-9, and Rockport (14-7-1) and Rowley (12-7-1) were comfortably in second and third. “It's hard to say what we need to do over the last four games because we do technically need a bit of help,” Jones said.

Winning is a start. It’s precisely what the Generals did in a 5-4, walkoff victory over Topsfield at Patton Park. Connor Sullivan got the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh. Mike Drinkwater (five strikeouts over last three innings) went seven strong to earn the win. The Generals started the game with four straight hits, lead by Mark Provost’s two-run double. Jered Stewart brought him home with a single. Bryan Vitale later drove in Provost on a fielder's choice.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Generals got it going right away. Reggie Maidment led off the inning with his second hit-by-pitch of the game. After a pop out, Judd Funchion and Provost worked back-to-back walks, loading the bases with only one out. Sullivan up hit a 2-2 pitch up the middle.

“We've been playing well lately,” Jones said. “The offensive has been coming alive.”
Stewart has a legitimate shot to win the triple crown – league leader at the end in RBI, average and homers. At one point recently he led the league in HR and RBIs and is hitting .438, just off the pace for best average. Drinkwater has been the team’s most consistent pitcher, with five of Hamilton’s 10 victories Jon Jackson is “our most dominant pitcher,” Jones said, but has been sidelined the last two weeks with an injury. “He hopes to make it back this week and help pitch us into the playoffs,” Jones said.