Burlington Bandits look to even playoff series with London Majors - Nelson Park at 7:30 pm

element_sportsBy Clinton Dixon and Justin Lethbridge

August 5, 2015


A huge comeback victory by the Burlington Bandits has given this first round series a whole new complexion. While the Majors have outscored Burlington all year, the Bandits have stuck around in most games including in Game 2. Despite losing 7-4, Burlington went toe-to-toe with London up until an eighth inning collapse.

A Bandits win on Thursday would even the series but it won’t come easily. Especially if London turns to Oscar Perez to pitch. Perez was not only their season leader in Strikeouts with 49 and 2nd on the team in wins with six, both marks good for 3rd in the league, but is 3-0 with 17 Strikeouts against Burlington this year.

Bandits Burlington players celebrate the end of a double-header

Will the Bandits be able to do the high fives Thursday night when the game is over. They have a solid chance of evening up the series.

While London has outhit the Bandits so far this series, Burlington’s 12 runs in the 9th inning of game three gives them the momentum. The last two games have shown Burlington that they can hold their own and if the Bandits can get it an early lead in game four, it could give them the confidence they need to overcome the higher seeded Majors.

Two things are clear going into Thursday night’s game 4 between the London Majors and the Burlington Bandits in the Quarterfinals of the IBL Playoffs.

One is that there will be a lot of runs scored; the two teams have combined to score 40 runs in the first three games alone.

The other is that this series is a long way from over. After Tuesday night’s comeback in the ninth-inning by Burlington, the Bandits still find themselves trailing 2 games to 1, but with a revitalized team that will look to make some noise going forward.

“The Box Score doesn’t really show it, but we actually hit the ball hard all night,” said Coach Kyle MacKinnon, who admits that the team was starting to become frustrated after not being rewarded for their good approach at the plate. “Once it did happen, the floodgates kind of busted open. Hopefully we can carry that over into Thursday night.”

If the Bandits do want to make a serious run at this series on Thursday night, they’re going to have to slow down two of the leagues hottest hitters – Cody Mombourquette and Paul Lytwynec, who have a combined batting average of .538 so far this series. The man who is tasked with slowing them down is Matthew St. Kitts.

Bandits Burlington's pitchers shut Toronto down

Is it an offensive game or a defensive game: the Bandits need to get early runs and then keep the momentum – they have been 9th inning heroes in the past though

St. Kitts gave up 8 hits and 6 runs before he was pulled in the middle of the fourth-inning when the two teams opened their series on July 31. Even though the numbers sound terrible, Coach MacKinnon isn’t worried. “I was talking with someone else in the league; they were saying that we’re probably in pretty good shape because they haven’t seen Matt St. Kitts have back-to-back bad starts. Now obviously you don’t want to bank on that, we’ve got to do our part as well, but it’s always good knowing that the rest of the league sees how good he is and hopefully he can bring it Thursday night.”

Giving St. Kitts that help will be Keith Kandel, Justin Gideon and Adam Odd, all three are new to the team this year. Gideon and Odd have been absolute superstars this season and this series especially. Adam Odd has hit 0.333 so far this series, while fellow IBL rookie Justin Gideon has hit an outstanding 0.571 with eight hits and three runs scored. Veteran Keith Kandel has been chipping in as well, batting 0.500 in the series so far, but it’s his leadership that’s helped the Bandits more than anything else so far.

“Keith Kandel, he’s our shortsop, he’s an import from the States. He’s played the last two years in Guelph and the year before that in Kitchener – so he knows what it’s like to be in the league and to go deep in the playoffs and make a run. He’s added a calming veteran influence to our team, which is nice.” Said Coach MacKinnon.

Bandits last gme 2013 - Dad and the boys

This is about to become an exciting series – will the public fill the stands?

All that’s left in Coack MacKinnon’s eyes is the bullpen. The Coach seems confident that the Bandits can win a close game if they take a lead into the eighth or ninth-inning, but is quick to point out that his middle-relievers need to step up and deliver on Thursday.

If they’re able to do their job, there is no reason that the Burlington Bandits couldn’t come from behind and shock the London Majors, but for now they’re going to take it one game at a time.

The game will get underway Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Nelson Park.

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