"Keep Calling us Average" Make it 8 for Barrie
By Carlos Verde • Photo: Stephen Elliott
TORONTO — The Barrie Baycats are, indeed, legit.
Any lingering doubt — from podcasters, rival fans or elsewhere — was launched into the downtown Toronto sky, over and over again, on Wednesday night as the Baycats pulverized the Maple Leafs 17-8.
Back-to-back-to-back jacks from Adam Odd, Victor Plaz and Josh Cote in the eighth inning put an exclamation mark on the win for Barrie (12-5), which has now won eight straight ballgames.
“I’ve heard the word ‘statement’ the last six games, and I don’t know how many more wins we need to be taken seriously,” said steely Baycats manager Josh Matlow. “Keep calling us average — it’s good fire for us.”
Barrie third baseman Victor Plaz went 3-for-6 on the night; the Montreal native is now hitting .444 on the season, and believes a strong group spirit is helping the Baycats.
“We knew what kind of team we have,” said Plaz, who played this past collegiate season with Upper Iowa. “We’re trying to prove people wrong (and) keep winning games.
“In the past we were winning games by a run or two, but now we’re winning by more it’s time to put some respect on our name.”
Barrie has indeed been dominant of late, outscoring opponents 56-15 in its last four wins.
In addition to their hot bats, a steady starting rotation featuring imports Frank Garcés and Jeifry Nunez — in addition to naturalized Canadian Juan Benítez —has been key to the club’s recent success.
“That rotation’s been working, and we haven’t really had that since Day 1 when I took over,” reflected Matlow, whose Baycats sport the lowest team earned-run average (4.19) in the IBL by nearly a run and a half. “Last year we only got imports halfway through the season, the year before none.
“They give us the confidence to go out there (and) get the runs we need — the boys are playing hot!”
Plaz’s ridiculous 1.373 OPS ranks second in the IBL, only behind Toronto’s Jon Solazzo (1.426)…Brief shoutout to Brantford LHP Daniel Howat, who got touched up somewhat in Guelph on Tuesday — but threw 8.2 bullpen innings for the short-handed Red Sox in the span of three days…Next up for Barrie is a Canada Day visit to Welland (7:05 p.m.) in a battle between the league’s two hottest teams.