The London Majors’ 2016 season could easily have played itself out on stage at the Grand Theatre. It had a flare for the dramatic.
Unfortunately, the last act turned tragic for London in Game 7 of their IBL semi-final series as they lost 10-6 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, putting an end to an IBL pennant-winning year.
The Majors entered the ninth inning with a one-run lead. Hold it and they would walk through the gates and into the IBL Championship against the Barrie Baycats.
That didn’t happen.
Even Sir Tom Stoppard on a break from writing Shakespeare In Love would have struggled to make this one feel believable.
Eventually, Cory Hammond was summoned to pitch. He was the IBL’s leader in ERA this season, but even he couldn’t find the line needed to bring the onslaught to an end. Toronto’s six runs came before the Majors had recorded a single out.
The Maple Leafs created a double black diamond slope to climb and London just couldn’t make it back.
The Majors will have great successes to look back on through the winter, but they were hungry for the team’s first title since 1976 and no matter what they try to focus on, the ninth inning of Game 7 will be tough to see around.
They won the regular season pennant and had high hopes.
Don’t forget that in order for London to clinch the IBL pennant, they had to run the table over the last two-plus weeks of the regular season, beat the Kitchener Panthers in their final game, wait for the Panthers to lose two nights later and then defeat Kitchener again in a one game playoff.
After a fairly breezy series against the Royals of Guelph, London kicked off their IBL semi-final series with two quick wins that flexed the strength of the Majors’ pitching staff. The way the cookie was crumbling at that point, it appeared that getting to the finals might be about as hard as getting a poodle to bark at a stranger.
But, Majors’ manager, Roop Chanderdat kept a warning light lit for Toronto’s bats and they flashed their strength in games three, four and six and then late in the deciding game as well.
The Maple Leafs now get to rustle the Barrie Baycats from an elongated slumber. Thanks to rain-outs in the first round series between Toronto and Brantford, the Baycats had wrapped up their sweep of the Kitchener Panthers before the Majors and Maple Leafs had even hit the second game of their semi.
The Baycats have won back-to-back IBL titles.