Hodges Shuts Down Majors in 11-5 win

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs ended a four-game losing streak by turning to left-fielder Jesse Hodges, en route to an 11-5 victory over the London Majors. 

Hodges, in his first start in his Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) career, put up a strong five innings pitched that saw him give up only one run - unearned - on five hits while striking out four batters. 

“I was just trying to rely on my fastball and my slider that I have a good feel for, but as the game progressed I got a really good feel for my changeup,” said Hodges following the game. “The most important thing for me is that I was pounding the [strike] zone the entire time.”

After Hodges got out of a bases-loaded with zero outs jam in the top of the second inning, the Maple Leafs responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to give their starter some run support. 

Centre-fielder J.J. Dutton got things started with an RBI single over the head of Majors’ second baseman Brett Graham, cashing second baseman Dan Marra with ease. 

Two batters later, shortstop Jose Vinicio missed a grand slam by a matter of inches, the sac-fly up against the right field fence allowed for right-fielder Greg Carrington to score the second run of the game for the Maple Leafs.

Back-to-back singles from Catcher Justin Marra and DH Garrett Takamatsu brought in two more runs for the Maple Leafs to make it a 4-0 game. 

Majors catcher Cris Ruiz ripped a single into left-field in the third inning that was mishandled by Yoichi Ishihara, allowing the visiting team to get on the board. 

Outfielder Ryan Dos Santos extended the Maple Leafs lead to 5-1 with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning, while Hodges retired six of the last eight batters he faced. 

“I know how hitters think too, so I’m watching guys swing and try to follow along with what they are trying to do,” said Hodges. 

The Maple Leafs opened the floodgates in the seventh inning, outfielder Aidan McAskie left the yard with a two-run home run to left field to give the Maple Leafs a 7-1 lead. 

Vinicio added another RBI to his tally with a base hit up the middle that scored Dos Santos. 

Takamatsu then cleared the bases with a three-run home run to right-centre field to cap off the Maple Leafs’ six-run, seventh inning as they now owned a double digit lead at 11-1.

Takamatsu finished the game with a game-high four RBI. 

The Majors would tack on four more runs in the last two innings of play off of Dan Procopio and Ryan Burnside, but it was too little, too late as the Maple Leafs ended their four-game losing streak with an 11-5 victory, staying perfect (4-0) against the reigning IBL champion Majors this season. 

The Maple Leafs are back on home turf on Wednesday as they host the Kitchener Panthers. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m.