Cicatello Brilliant as Leafs Beat Cardinals; Advance to Semis

by Ryan Eakin

HAMILTON - Moving on!

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Hamilton Cardinals 8-2 on Friday evening to win their quarterfinal series 2-0.

With the sweep, the Leafs become the first team to punch their ticket to the semifinals. They will face the Kitchener Panthers, Welland Jackfish, Barrie Baycats, or Brantford Red Sox in round two.

Toronto ace Justin Cicatello was outstanding for the Leafs, pitching seven shutout innings. 

The American import allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out three batters. 

Maple Leafs' designated hitter Sean Reilly led the way at the plate, going two-for-four with a walk.

Cardinals ace Chris Lazar took the loss, allowing five earned runs on eight hits and four bases on balls in seven innings pitched.

The lefty struck out seven Maple Leafs' batters.

TORONTO - 8-11-1

HAMILTON - 2-3-3

BIGGEST PLAY OF THE GAME: In the bottom of the eighth inning, Maple Leafs' reliever Dustin Richardson struck out Ryan Burnside to end the inning.

The Cardinals had already scored two runs in the inning and had the tying run on deck before the former big leaguer recorded the strikeout.

The Leafs then scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to blow the game wide open.

BY THE NUMBERS...

3. For the third season in a row, the Leafs will advance to the semis. 

26. In the two-game sweep of the Cardinals, the Maple Leafs scored 26 runs.

NEXT UP...

- The Leafs now await the conclusion of the first round before they begin their semi-final series later next week.

For more information, follow the Maple Leafs on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @iblmapleleafs.

Photo: @LaRussaGastro