PYETTE: After near-brawl, London Majors face Brantford again, in playoffs

The fallout of the near-brawl between London and Brantford a couple of weeks ago at Labatt Park is still being felt.

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The fallout of the near-brawl between London and Brantford a couple of weeks ago at Labatt Park is still being felt. 

Majors pitcher Eduardo Perez is in the middle of serving a five-game suspension for hitting Red Sox catcher Robbie Gauthier in the helmet. That happened right after Brantford’s Nick Burdett clobbered a home run in the ninth inning of a blowout loss, then handed his bat to London catcher Hayden Jaco.

Expect little carryover in the best-of-three Intercounty Baseball League semifinal series between the two rivals, which starts Friday in London. There is a spot in the Intercounty Baseball League final on the line.

“Those little hiccups don’t mean anything,” Majors manager Roop Chanderdat said. “We’re ready to get back to ball and try to win a championship.” 

Well-rested London earned a first-place playoff bye with an impressive march through the regular season. Brantford has played better than its 11-19 mark of late and stunned Kitchener in a two-game opening-round sweep. 

“I wasn’t surprised,” Chanderdat said. “They had a tough start to the year. They were young, but brought in their imports and hit their stride. They had a winning record down the stretch and they’re riding that. 

“They’re a scrappy team with good pitching.” 

The Majors have the best one-two punch in starters Owen Boon and Pedro De Los Santos. But Brantford’s Adam Jafine wrapped up the Kitchener series with a complete-game four-hitter that required 135 pitches.

During the season, Chanderdat worked around Boon’s MBA studies and De Los Santos’ job schedule in Toronto to set his rotation. He also made sure they didn’t face the same opponent too many times.

“You try to juggle those things,” he said. “Whoever is starting Game 1 or 2, it doesn’t matter. They are both workhorses. It’s going to come down to our pitching. Our aces have to carry us and our big bats – Byron (Reichstein) and Cleveland (Brownlee) – are going to have to hit in the playoffs.

“You need your horses to go and if everyone else does what they’re supposed to, we’ll win.” 

Game 2 goes Saturday night in Brantford and Game 3, if necessary, is Sunday, 7:35 p.m. at Labatt Park. If it goes the distance, it means the Red Sox found a way against one of London’s top starters.

The Majors didn’t get a ton of practice time during the bye in part because of the weather. They’re hoping the long break isn’t a hurdle in advancing to their first championship series since 2014, when they were swept four straight by Barrie. 

“We’ve had a great year and the support has been tremendous,” Chanderdat said. “Normally, baseball is done and people turn the page on the sports calendar, but we’re hoping to get a great crowd out to root us on.”

If they can stop the Sox, they will extend summer a bit longer and ensure Perez gets another chance to pitch in the post-season.