From pondering retirement to relief ace: Braeden Ferrington helps London Majors to IBL pennant

Braeden Ferrington (R) is congratulated by catcher Hayden Jaco (L) after a London Majors victory. (Source: Matt Hiscox/London Majors)

After six seasons in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL), London Majors pitcher Braeden Ferrington was ready to hang up the cleats.

However, when the IBL announced a 2021 season, the Majors were in need of arms to get them through a condensed schedule.

"It was all hands on deck," says Ferrington, who manages the baseball department at Source For Sports in London, Ont.

His decision to return to the club for a seventh year was a great one for both him and the club.  In a career high 31.1 innings pitched, he posted an 0.86 ERA, allowing just three earned runs, and led the IBL in saves with four.

"Everything clicked," says Ferrington, who had a previous career best 4.26 ERA in the 2016 season.

"I'm more known for a guy who would throw in a mop up role, but now Roop puts me in to win a game and I'm all for it.”

Ferrington says all four of his pitches (Fastball, Change, Slider, and Curveball) were all working this year, and credits his catcher Hayden Jaco with being a 'workhorse' and being on the same page. 

The IBL doesn't award 'Comeback Player of the Year' or 'Top Relief Pitcher' or Ferrington would be a lock for both.

"He just had to put it all together, and now he's a different pitcher," says Roop Chanderdat, the London Majors manager who has used Ferrington as a starter, middle-reliever, and closer.

"He has to locate, work the corners and uses off speed and he's done a great job of that. You can see a maturity in him on and off the field, and that's helped his game. We're glad that he's back this year with us.”

He was just one of a few pitchers that had amazing years for the team. Londoner Owen Boon and Pedro De Los Santos were first and second in two major categories. Boon led the league with eight wins, and was second in ERA (2.33), while Pedro De La Santos led the league in ERA (2.19) and had seven victories

With an impressive 22-8 record, the Majors won the IBL pennant for the third time ('08,'16) under the ownership of Chanderdat and Scott Dart.

"With Covid and protocols it's been quite a grind and it's the boys deserve a lot of credit," says Chanderdat.

"Thursday night games and well and getting back at three in the morning coming back and playing Friday, and same with the Barrie trips and Toronto. We're happy with that now, but our bigger picture has always been trying to win the playoffs and, and the championship.”

That title has eluded this franchise for 45 years with their last title coming in 1976.

"In my first year we went to the finals (lost to Barrie), but like, you can now see the maturity of all the guys that have been there to now. It's kind of nicely it's everyone's everybody gets along we're all on the same page, everybody actually enjoys being around each other, rather than trying to internally battle for each position.”

Ferrington has also been impressed with the Majors fan base this year. The club says it has been averaging close to 2,000 fans per game once capacity restrictions were increased to 50 per cent.

"Friday, we definitely had more fans than the London Knights and in previous years that would never been the case. In the past people would stay for seven innings, then fade away,” he says. “For the guys that have been here, and now the new guys seeing it, this is kind of cool.”

Chanderdat says the support has been amazing.

"Londoners love winners and you know, we're winning and they're coming out support us," says Chanderdat. Our loyal fans are always there and we're hoping they continue to support us through the playoffs. Hopefully we can win this championship.”

London has earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs which begin Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021