London Majors can’t contain the Kitchener Panthers

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It was an ugly end to a season that turned ugly in a hurry.

The London Majors were eliminated from the Intercounty Baseball League playoffs Sunday after taking a 21-3 hammering from the Kitchener Panthers.

The Panthers took the best-of-seven semifinal 4-1 and now wait for the winner of the Brantford Red Sox and Barrie Baycats for the IBL title.

Except for a 14-4 win Saturday in London, the Majors had a tough time with the powerful Panthers. After a surprisingly low-scoring 5-0 and 5-2 loses in the first two games, the Majors pitching staff had trouble keeping the Panthers under control.

Five Majors’ pitchers got knocked around for 19 hits and four home runs. The middle of the Panther order was murderous. Sean Reilly finally had a big day. He had four hits, two home runs — including a grand slam — and nine RBI.

Mike Gordner had a home run and three hits, as did Tanner Nivins.

There was no way the Majors could match them.

It was a tough way to remember the season considering the Majors were 13-0 at one point with a dominating pitching staff.

Then, ace Murilo Gouvea left to play in the Can-Am League, the Majors wound up with a few injuries and the season went downhill from there.

They did recover a little going into the playoffs but they simply didn’t have enough good players to carry them through.

“We were a little short this year,” said Majors’ manager Roop Chanderdat. “Our team was kind of built on top-end pitching. I hate saying this, but Gouvea was vital to this team. He was our go-to guy. He became our leader . . . It was a tough loss this year.

“We felt it was going a little south when Gouvea left. We went through a stretch with six or eight losses in a row. We had to find our identity again and we found it. It was a team that kept battling until the end. It was a tough way to end the series.”

There have been plenty of big innings in this series and the Panthers used a big fourth inning when they scored seven runs to put this game and the series away.

The Panthers went into the fourth with a 2-0 lead on a two-run Reilly homer.

They knocked out Majors’ starter Luis Sanchez in the fourth inning with Nivins contributing a two-run homer in that inning. Sanchez went 32/3 innings giving up 10 hits and nine runs, five of them earned.

Nivins and Gordner, who had a solo home run in the game, were murderous on Majors pitching in this series. To add to the mangling, the Panthers had a five-run seventh and six-run eighth.

“The score is what it is,” Chanderdat said. “We were in most of the games. We were in a couple of close games. We had a big lead in Kitchener and they hit a grand slam. Woulda’ shoulda’ coulda’ won those games but we didn’t. (Sunday’s) score is just one of those things; they got on our pitching; they got some hits and it snowballed from there.”

The Majors top of the order did a lot of battling throughout the playoffs. Byron Reichstein had two hits Sunday and finished hitting .455. Carlos Arteaga had a hit, finishing at .386 and Chris McQueen added a hit to get to .390.

Last year, Chanderdat talked about stepping away from managing. He wasn’t talking that way Sunday.

“It’s so fresh. I just got done a game,” Chanderdat said. “Every year, if you are in sports, it’s different. This year is different. I haven’t thought about that. All my effort was just trying to piece it together.”

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