Photo by Brandon Taylor
Roughly one quarter of the way through the season, things continue to be tight across the IBL – second place Toronto and sixth place London are separated by only two and a half games. Offense has been the theme of the season, but it’s time to show the pitchers some love. Each team’s top pitcher will be highlighted as part of their recap.
#8. Brantford Red Sox (2-10, Previous Week: 7)
Brantford’s drop in the rankings is not an indictment of their play – they continue to show improvement week-to-week, highlighted by an 11-5 win in Kitchener Thursday night. Danny Howat has been extremely effective when used out of the bullpen, as three of his four relief appearances have been scoreless, with 15 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA. Among a pitching staff that has had its struggles, the Brantford native has been a bright spot.
#7. London Majors (4-6, Previous Week: 6)
It has not been an ideal start for the back-to-back champs. The skid continued with a pair of losses this week, and they’ve now lost six out of their seven games against teams above them in the rankings. The struggles become more concerning when you consider that they have allowed the fewest runs in the league, giving up 10 less runs than the next closest team. The pitching staff has been led by arguably the best Canadian pitcher in the IBL, veteran righty Owen Boon. He leads the league with 31 strikeouts and is tied for second in ERA. Unfortunately the Majors haven’t been able to help Boon with the bats, averaging only three runs per start. If they’re going to turn things around, they’ll need to start giving their ace some run support – he can’t do it all himself.
#6. Guelph Royals (4-8, Previous Week: 8)
Busy week, but a much better one for the boys in blue. The Royals won three straight before dropping a Sunday afternoon Christie Pits affair, and their offensive resurgence should give fans a nice level of optimism going forward, scoring 34 runs in their last three games. Japanese product Yuki Narita has been the most effective import pitcher in 2023, leading all non-Canadians with a 3.98 ERA, striking out 11 and a half batters per nine innings. Guelph is headed into a tough stretch however, with two games against the smoking hot Welland Jackfish in the next five days. Time will tell if their recent success is a sign of things to come, or just a blip on the radar.
#5. Barrie Baycats (5-5, Previous Week: 5)
In the most respectful way possible, the Baycats have been the definition of average. They have scored nearly the same amount of runs as they’ve allowed, and won just as many games as they’ve lost. While average is how I’m choosing to describe the team, exceptional is a better word to describe the pitching – they currently boast the league’s best ERA. Juan Benitez’s return to the team has certainly given them a bump. In his two appearances, he has recorded the win in both, and only allowed two earned runs over 11 innings. With four games this week Barrie will have plenty of opportunity to find a direction, but if this season has taught us anything, a 2-2 week seems to be the most likely outcome.
#4. Kitchener Panthers (7-5, Previous Week: 3)
It’s been a tough go for the Panthers, as they’ve dropped three out of four and seeing their offense cool off in the process. After scoring over six runs in every game coming into this week, they failed to reach that number in all three of their losses. If there’s one positive to look at, Kitchener may have found their ace. Following a tough 2022 campaign, IBL Pitcher of the Week Christian Hauck is off to the best start of his seven year career, leading the league with a 2.20 ERA and averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. Things aren’t going to get any easier, as the team heads into arguably their toughest stretch of the year, with six of their next eight games on the road.
#3: Toronto Maple Leafs (8-5, Previous Week: 1)
The Leafs fall two spots after getting blown out twice this weekend before salvaging the weekend with a 14-10 victory over Guelph. Toronto has been going in the wrong direction the last couple of weeks, as after starting the season 5-1 they have lost four of their last seven games, giving up an average of 10 and a half runs during that stretch. Despite their struggles on the mound, Dominican starter Julian Valdez has been their best arm. While his ERA was inflated in his outing this week, he had a stellar performance against Kitchener just over a week ago where he picked up his first win, going five innings and allowing just one run. The pitching staff has a chance to get back on track, as this week’s slate sees them compete with the three lowest scoring teams in the league.
#2: Hamilton Cardinals (7-5, Previous Week: 4)
Sporting an offense that has put up at least 12 runs in three of their last five games, the Cardinals have found their stride offensively to go with a pitching staff that has been consistent all year. Another show of their consistency is they are the only team that hasn’t lost back-to-back games this season. A big part of their success has been IBL newcomer Logan Walters. The Tennessee native has three wins on the season, while not allowing a run in two of his four starts. He currently leads the team in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. The Cards have looked stronger than they have in years, and are well on their way to a winning season for the second time in almost two decades.
#1: Welland Jackfish (9-2, Previous Week: 2)
It’s only the second week of June, but there’s little doubt around who the top dog is right now. Riding a franchise high nine-game win streak, Welland has established themselves as the team to beat. They are dominating in every facet of the game, as it shows with them leading the league in run differential (+42). For the most part, the games haven’t been particularly close either – they’ve won each of their last four games by five runs or more. Dominican fireballer Deivy Mendez has continued to dominate the league, and is one of the most electric arms the IBL has seen in years. He’s recorded three saves with 14 strikeouts over eight innings, and has yet to allow a run during the regular season in his career. Time will tell if the Fish can keep rolling, but they are showing no signs of slowing down.
News: IBL Veteran Brett Lawson Re-Signs with Hamilton
The Hamilton Cardinals have re-signed veteran right-handed starting pitcher Brett Lawson.Standing tall at 6-foot-8 and hailing from Burlington, Lawson made a mid-season move to the Cardinals from the Welland Jackfish during the 2023 campaign. Despite a limited regular-season engagement, where he pitched 7 innings for the Cardinals, Lawson stepped up remarkably in the playoff series…
The Hamilton Cardinals have re-signed veteran right-handed starting pitcher Brett Lawson.
Standing tall at 6-foot-8 and hailing from Burlington, Lawson made a mid-season move to the Cardinals from the Welland Jackfish during the 2023 campaign. Despite a limited regular-season engagement, where he pitched 7 innings for the Cardinals, Lawson stepped up remarkably in the playoff series against Barrie, delivering a standout performance by striking out 10 batters across 8 innings and achieving a commendable ERA of 3.37.
With a rich career spanning over 500 innings in the IBL and accumulating more than 400 strikeouts, Lawson’s experience is unparalleled in the league. His illustrious career includes clinching the IBL’s prestigious Dominico Cup with the Barrie Baycats from 2014 to 2018. Lawson’s professional journey was kickstarted when he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 15th round of the 2001 MLB June Amateur Draft, following his tenure at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, marking the beginning of a six-season journey in professional baseball. The Cardinals will continue to lean on Lawson’s proven leadership and track record of success throughout the 2024 season.
“Lawson is one of the model IBL veterans, and with a young roster, we’re fortunate to have him back with us,” said George Halim, Hamilton Cardinals General Manager. “He’s a lifetime pro who knows how to get outs, and knows how to compete while giving us a chance to win when he’s out there.”
About the Hamilton Cardinals
The Hamilton Cardinals Baseball Club are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, established in 1919. For more information visit: https://www.theibl.ca & https://www.iblcardinals.ca
News: JACKFISH ANNOUNCE CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION GAME AGAINST QUEBEC CAPITALES
WELLAND – The Welland Jackfish, Niagara’s sports entertainment destination, is excited to announce they will host the 2023 Frontier League Champions Quebec Capitales for a preseason game at Welland Stadium on Monday, May 6.Gates are scheduled to open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Concessions will be available and tickets…
WELLAND – The Welland Jackfish, Niagara’s sports entertainment destination, is excited to announce they will host the 2023 Frontier League Champions Quebec Capitales for a preseason game at Welland Stadium on Monday, May 6.
Gates are scheduled to open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Concessions will be available and tickets can be purchased over the phone by calling 905-735-9834 or by clicking here.
“It will be great to open the doors on May 6 for the exhibition against Quebec,” team President and Director of Fun, Ryan Harrison said. “I appreciate Pat Scalabrini and the entire Quebec Capitales for making this happen for us and all of our fans. It will be tremendous for our players – and our gameday staff – to get in a preseason game under the lights as we continue to prepare for Opening Day. It’s incredible to be home at the Pond.”
The Québec Capitales (French: Les Capitales de Québec) are a professional baseball team based in Quebec City, Quebec. The Capitales have been members of the Frontier League since the 2020 season after a merger between the Can-Am League and the Frontier League in October 2019. Since the 1999 season, the Capitales have played their home games at Stade Canac.
The Jackfish return to The Pond on Saturday, May 18th at 6:05 pm for their 2024 Home Opener. Season membership and flex plans are on sale now at wellandjackfish.com/2024 or by calling 905-735-9834.
The Welland Jackfish are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, with the league established in 1919, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. For more information, visit www.wellandjackfish.com or follow the Jackfish on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @wellandjackfish.
News: Leafs Re-Sign Pitcher Chris Nagorski
TORONTO, Ontario – The Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club (@MapleLeafsBaseball) announced today the re-signing of 5 time IBL Champion Right-Handed Pitcher Chris NagorskiNagorski returns for his 3rd season with the Leafs after spending 8 seasons in the IBL with Guelph and Barrie. Nagorski is 2nd all time in IBL career saves (25) and 12th all-time…
TORONTO, Ontario – The Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club (@MapleLeafsBaseball) announced today the re-signing of 5 time IBL Champion Right-Handed Pitcher Chris Nagorski
Nagorski returns for his 3rd season with the Leafs after spending 8 seasons in the IBL with Guelph and Barrie. Nagorski is 2nd all time in IBL career saves (25) and 12th all-time in appearances (136 games) . Last season in 12 games, Chris stuck out 8 and had an ERA of 5.26 in 13.2 Innings pitched.
“Chris is a tremendous team player and understands his role as a leader and late inning relief pitcher. He knows how to be ready to pitch and helps the younger players adjust to the IBL. We are excited to have him back this year.” GM Jeff Lounsbury
“I am thrilled to run it back with the boys and contribute to a new era of Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball” said Nagorkski
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a member of Canada’s best league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The over 100-year-old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, with the league established in 1919, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. For more information, visit www.mapleleafsbaseball.com or follow the Maple Leafs on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
This announcement is brought to you by NEW ERA CAP COMPANY official hat supplier of the Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball Team. New Era | New Era Hats & Apparel – New Era Cap
Photo: Craig Aikin