The drive for a sixth-straight IBL title is alive and well for the Barrie Baycats.
The five-time defending champions wrapped up another league pennant with a 4-2 victory over the Kitchener Panthers, Aug. 7, in a one-game tiebreaking playoff at Coates Stadium.
The win clinched top spot in the IBL standings and a first-round playoff date with the eighth-place Brantford Red Sox. The best-of-seven series opens Aug. 8 in Barrie. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Looking to wrap up home-field advantage through the playoffs, Barrie (26-11) turned to Adrian Salcedo on the mound and the Dominican Republic native responded with a dominating performance. The right-hander went seven shutout innings, giving up just four hits and two walks. He struck out four.
Santo Arias, normally a starter, tossed the final two innings to nail down his first save. He gave up two runs on two hits and struck out a pair.
The Baycats got to Kitchener starter Yoen Socarras in the third inning. Jordan Castaldo, the first Baycats player in the team’s history to capture the Triple Crown, drew a walk and then came into score on Kevin Atkinson’s triple to right field.
Barrie added to its lead with a pair of runs in the fifth inning when Ryan Rijo doubled home Starlin Rodriquez and Castaldo. They added some insurance off Kitchener reliever Brady Schnarr in the bottom of the eighth when an error by shortstop Yorbis Borroto brought home Kyle DeGrace from third to make it 4-0.
Andy Leader tripled home Brian Burton in the ninth and then scored on a groundout by Zarley Cina, but Arias would slam the door on the Kitchener rally to clinch first place.
The night was a special one for Castaldo, who finished off an impressive season. The 30-year-old infielder led the league in batting average (.453), homers (15) and RBIs (47).
Game 2 of the series against the Red Sox goes Aug. 11 in Barrie. Game time is 7:30 p.m.