OTTAWA (ODB) — Through 3 1/2 innings Sunday night, it looked as though the Ottawa Avnet Gargoyles were on their way to their second consecutive OCSL victory.
But those aspirations were sidetracked by a pair of robust innings as C division Pennex knocked the ball around and scored 12 runs in the fourth and fifth frames.
Staked to a seemingly comfortable 9-2 lead, the Gargs let this one slip from their grips, going on to lose 15-10 in front of a crowd of 18 at Hampton Yards.
“We should have won that one,” said Rob Lafontaine, on the quiet ride to W, following the Gargs’ 14th loss in 15 starts. “I thought we were going to win, for sure,” sided Mark Brennae.
The Gargs’ undoing came after they put up a five-spot in the top of the fourth to take that seven-run lead. Pennex, though, has some pretty good hitters and they proved that, banging out a string of safeties to score five in the bottom of the inning and seven more in the next to take their only lead of the night.
Todd Duckworth (L, 0-7) clearly wasn’t the Todd we are used to. Hey, it happens.
The longtime Gargs star pitcher allowed 14 earned runs on 14 hits and although the game wasn’t decided until that fifth frame, one could see early on that the veteran did not have his best stuff.
After the Gargs scored three in the first, Pennex made three very loud outs in the bottom of the inning — a sensational leaping catch at first by Théo Gauthier; a long, running catch from Matthew Stephenson in centre and a dandy diving play from Rob Lafontaine at short.
“I was just thinking ‘no runs have scored,’ ” said Duckworth of that inning following the game, over beers at W.
It was just a matter of time.
And that’s not to point the finger at Duckworth. This guy has been the club workhorse for years and although his record would indicate an off-season, he actually has pitched very well in spots this campaign; most notably blanking the A-division Yankees through six on June 25.
Admittedly, it’s become a matter of confidence for the 52-year-old righty. “I don’t seem to have the same pop on the ball,” the pitcher conceded. “No location because I have no velocity. No velocity because I can’t find the location.”
This chicken-and-egg combination proved fatal Sunday night, leading Duckworth to conclude it’s the result of a lack of arm speed combined with a weaker upper body — something he’s vowed to work on both in the off-season and down the stretch (the Gargs have nine games to play before they face a do-or-die best-of-three playoff series in August).
The Gargs defence sparkled Tuesday night, with T. Gauthier, Lafontaine, Rick Devereux in LF, Matthew Stephenson and Mathieu Gauthier in right all making head’s-up plays. And the bats continued to produce with the Men in Black belting out 14 hits, including home runs from Lafontaine (his first) and 3B Zach Schowalter (his second). The steady third baseman went 1-1 with a dinger, drove in two, including one on a sacrifice fly, and walked three times. He also scored a pair of runs. Stephenson collected three hits, including a double, in five at bats, while Lafontaine went 3-4 and is now batting .714 (10-14). M. Gauthier and Devereux each had a pair of hits.
Gargs Largs: Théo made an amazing play to prevent a run and Mark an error (and also to earn a beer from the catcher) when the Gargs 1B lunged high and to his right to snare a pickoff toss that had right-field written all over it. “You owe him one,” the plate umpire whispered to Mark afterward. “I know,” Mark agreed . . . Rob made his patented over-the-shoulder catch, nicely tracking a ball far behind shortstop in short left-centre field . . . Real Horrorshow: According to a post-game discussion of horror films, it seems The Thing, Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project are among the Gargs’ favourite spine-chillers to watch when they’re on the road. “I’m not into horror shows,” said Mark. “But when I want to see one, I usually just go to a Gargs’ game,” he quipped . . . Which Bullpen?: Odd to see Jeff come out and pitch the final two innings to earn a save against the Gargs. It was just a month ago (June 8) that Jeff pitched a five-hitter for the Gargs, in a 5-1 loss to the Acadiens . . . The Gargs played with nine men and no rover . . . E=MC2: Never let it be said the Gargs don’t have deep conversations following their games. Overheard at W was Zach explaining how Force = Mass X Acceleration . . . Quote of the night: From Zach, courtesy Rob. “Zach comes up to me in the field and says ‘Todd’s not himself tonight — he’s not yelling at anyone.’ ” . . . Karl Bélanger made it back alive from Guinea but his nightmare wasn’t in the African nation, it was at Logan Aiport in Boston where his flight to Ottawa was cancelled. The airline offered to bus the second baseman to Montreal for a flight to the nation’s capital. Karl opted to stay the night in Beantown and take in a game at Fenway where operating on basically no sleep (a nine-hour overlay in Paris will do that), Karl fell asleep in the stands high above home plate . . . The Gargs visit the Acadiens Tuesday night (9 p.m., Hampton Yards), with Duckworth expected to take the ball.
Rob Lafontaine 3-4, 2 runs, HR (1), BB, RBI
Glen McGregor 1-4, 2 runs, BB
Karl Bélanger 0-0
Matthew Stephenson 3-5, run, 2B
Théo Gauthier 0-5, RBI
Zach Schowalter 1-1, 2 runs, HR (2), 3BB, sac fly, 2 RBI
Mark Brennae 1-5, run
Rick Devereux 2-4, run, BB
Mathieu Gauthier 2-5, RBI
Todd Duckworth 1-4, run, RBI
Todd Duckworth (L, 0-7) 6IP, 15 runs (14 earned), 14H, 1K, 3BB
Gargs 3 0 1 5 0 1 0 10 14 2
Pennex 0 0 2 5 7 1 x 15 14 4