BURLINGTON – Nate Penrose of the Burlington Padres shut out the Burlington Beers 1-0 in the Golden Horseshoe Baseball League championship on Thursday night, evening the series at one game each.
It was a pitcher’s duel for the GHBL books, as Burlington Padres ace Penrose took on Cam McKnight in a game that featured a combined seven hits and seventeen strikeouts.
The tall left-hander’s outing was just good enough to ensure the defending champions wouldn’t face an uphill battle by losing the first two games of the series, an outcome the ace felt necessary to avoid.
“It’s huge,” said Penrose, who had lost to the Beers during the regular season, about the win. “It really opens up the series again, because if you’re down 2-0 it’s a pretty tough task to win three in a row.”
The Padres’ ace took control of the game early, striking out five of the first nine batters he faced. He finished the evening’s shutout with 10 strikeouts, a walk, and three hits.
This win gave the Padres a chance to take a series lead at home in game three, but it was a tough enough task in itself.
Aside from the fourth inning, baserunners were scarce – five of the game’s seven hits came in the frame – and so when the Padres strung together a pair of singles by Will Johnstone and Adam Vella with two outs, the game changed quickly.
John Mariotti – who had a .378 batting average during the regular season – strode up to the plate and promptly drove in the one and only run of the game. He reached out for a low and away fastball and it curved into left field, just out of a leaping Brandon MacKay’s reach.
“Just a little snakebitten,” said McKnight after the game. “Mariotti hit a good pitch in the gap…it was way away. He stuck one hand on the bat and really hit it well. Not much you can do about that.”
That run was the only mark against McKnight during his outing, a complete game loss while only surrendering the one run on four hits with seven strikeouts.
“It’s a tough take. You know Penrose is going to come out firing,” said McKnight. “It’s almost a good thing because you need a little character in the final.
“Like that last game against Ancaster, we had to kind of grit our teeth and comeback. This might be a really good thing. We might come out really firing and have that sense of urgency in the next game.