RADIOWESTERN.CA – April 29, 2019 – On Saturday afternoon ‘The Boys of Summer’ returned to Labatt Memorial Park, just not officially. The London Majors hosted the Michigan Jet Box for their annual preseason doubleheader, with the visitors coming in this year as the defending Roy Hobbs World Series Champions. The two teams both walked away with a victory, splitting the affair under a grey sky and in front a few faithful fans eager to enjoy some baseball in the city after a long winter hibernation.
With many players still finishing school, both teams did not support a full roster, but this would create an opportunity for those players on the fringe to make an impact. London struggled out of the gate, only producing three hits and one run through the first six innings in the first game. Michigan chipped away with one-run in four of the first six innings to take a 4-1 lead. A two-run double by Jet Box’s shortstop helped increase the visitors lead to 7-1 prior to the seventh inning stretch. The Majors would load the bases in the bottom of the ninth but could only muster two-runs across the plate, dropping the first game 7-3. “Mentality wise, just coming in and throwing strikes. Just staying ahead of the hitters, you know I haven’t faced any talent like this in a while, so I just wanted to get ahead,” said Michigan’s starting pitcher A.J. Susick who picked up the victory. He went also talked about the pleasure of playing at Labatt Memorial Park “I got interested in playing with these guys here from the Jet Box, because they told me about this place out here in London. You know the oldest baseball park in the world and I was like sign me up!”
Despite the lackluster effort in the first game, London responded in dominating fashion throwing a no-hitter in the second half of the doubleheader. Local star Owen Boon, who played in the Can-Am League for Trois-Rivieres, set the tone early striking out multiple Michigan batters through the first five innings. The Majors bullpen followed Boon’s start, not allowing a hit throughout the game that was called after eight innings. London offensively smacked two homeruns in the third inning, followed by a 6-run fourth inning that made it 9-0, en route to a 10-0 final. “Like I always say, I got a good pitch that stayed up for me and I got all of it and it got out of here. You know what, to me, that was a good spark leading into the season […] I’ve been on a long break right now, but if I can come back in and still hit it like that then I’m going to be okay for the season,” stated fan favourite Cleveland Brownlee regarding his Thames River solo-splash in the third inning.
For London Majors Co-Owner/Manager Roop Chanderdt the day was less about wins & losses and more about honouring tradition with the team south of the border. “This game we do because of the memory of Jim Corte. He’s the manager there (Jet Box), he passed away last year. I promised Jimmy as long as I’m around, we’ll keep this going,” said the Majors skipper post-game. Jim Corte helped manage the Jet Box baseball program for 50 years, producing over 1600 wins from when they were established in 1969 and was inducted into the Roy Hobbs Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.
The Majors will continue to practice, add players and await others from their intercollegiate responsibilities, while fans wait for the IBL regular season to start. Baseball officially returns to the Forest City when the London Majors host the Hamilton Cardinals for their 2019 Home Opener. You can catch all the action from Labatt Memorial Park starting at 7:35pm on Friday May 10th.