WINCHESTER – The Winchester Heat totalled 30 runs through three games as the tier four squad chased down its first-ever National Capital Baseball League title.
In the deciding game three Sun., Sept. 8 at Morgan Field, Brayden Cochrane toed the rubber, twisting up Bytown Bombers batters in the process.
Across seven innings of work, Cochrane struck out nine, giving up just six hits for four runs, and walking five.
It was a masterful performance for the starter, who avenged being roughed up by the same Bombers squad last season as the Heat fell short in the championship final.
Winchester’s run to the title was a feat not often seen in sports, as the club piled up 12 straight wins to end the regular season, edging out the Dukes by three points to claim the tier pennant.
In the post-season, the Heat rolled past the Irish with a round one sweep, and stumbled but once in the semi-final series with the Knights, tying game two 19-19.
Polishing off the Bombers in three games pushed Winchester’s eventual undefeated string to 20 games.
Buoyed by the success, and back-to-back trips to the division championship, Winchester will be looking to advance to tier three ahead of next season.
Game one of the championship was played Tues., Sept. 3 at Morgan Field.
Cochrane was on the mound in the opener, working seven innings in a 6-2 Heat victory.
In all, he fanned 12 Bombers’ batters, while surrendering six hits and two runs, one earned.
Offensively, Winchester put up runs in the third, fifth, and sixth inning, though the highlight was Brandon Buma’s third-inning grand slam, which erased a 2-0 Bombers lead.
Game two Fri., Sept. 6 was a more tightly-contested, and rain soaked, affair. Eric Heldens toed the rubber for five innings, getting roughed up for nine runs on seven hits.
Winchester’s offense, however, bailed him out. In all, the Heat would put up 13 runs, including a five-run fifth inning.
Spencer Heldens paced the output, launching a three-run homerun in the seventh inning. (The game’s final inning continued ahead of game three’s start Sept. 8 after rain forced its suspension two days earlier.)
The Heat was down 2-0 going into the fourth inning of game three, but the offensive outburst was soon to come.
In its half of the frame, Winchester’s batters went on a roll, piling up seven runs and quickly erasing any hint of a deficit. Catcher Josh Stubbings had himself a night, knocking out three hits and totalling three RBIs.
Through three games in the final, Cochrane was called upon in each and he did his best to ensure the Heat ended the season with a championship. A final pitching line of 22 strikeouts, seven walks, 12 hits, and seven runs earned him unanimous support for the Most Valuable Player Award.