Jackfish win big, tie series at 1-1

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Welland Jackfish on Sunday afternoon at Dominico Field by a score of 10-3, as the semifinals of the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) is now tied at one game apiece. 

Similar to Game 1, fans were treated to a pitchers duel, this time featuring James Bradwell for the visiting Jackfish and Daniel Procopio for the Maple Leafs. 

After a one-two-three first inning from Bradwell, the Maple Leafs got on the board first in the second inning with an infield single from second baseman Dan Marra that scored DH Garrett Takamtsu after he reached via an error. 

Procopio found himself in some tough situations early and often. 

The 27-year-old induced an inning-ending double play with two runners on in the first inning, then stranded two runners in both the second and third inning, before sitting down the Jackfish in order in the fourth inning. 

The top of the fifth inning saw Jackfish centre-fielder Gio Morello lead off the inning with a walk, he quickly made his way to third base on a fielding error form Maple Leafs first baseman Jordan Castaldo. 

Two batters in and the Jackfish had two runners in scoring position with zero outs.

Although Procopio sat down third baseman Ethan Hunt on strikes, catcher Carlos Martinez ripped a double just inside the left-field line and passed a diving Johnathan Solazzo, allowing for both runners to score, making it a 2-1 game in favour of Welland. 

One inning later, the Maple Leafs threatened as well. Shortstop Jose Vinicio bunted his way on board before stealing second base. 

Catcher Justin Marra followed that up with a chopper to third that saw Hunt unable to come up with it, giving the Maple Leafs runners on the corners with no outs and the heart of the order coming up. 

Bradwell did what he had done best all day and limited the Maple Leafs, as they managed to scrape across just one run on a ground ball from Castaldo, making it a 2-2 game heading into the last three innings of play. 

Procopio, now back out for the seventh inning, quickly saw the leadoff man Morello make his way to second base on a bunt single and a throwing error from Solazzo. 

A follow-up bunt attempt from left-fielder Hogan Brown saw Morello advance to third on the sacrifice, but the Jackfish were unable to cash in the go-ahead run as Procopio escaped the jam yet again. 

Procopio’s day was done after going seven strong innings, giving up just the two runs on seven hits while striking out seven batters. 

Chris Nagorski entered the game in relief and was greeted by a solo home run to left-field by Jackfish first baseman Steve Moretto, as the Jackfish took their first lead of the game.

A double off of the left-field wall by right-fielder Caleb Feuerstake scored another run, while a base hit into shallow centre-field from Morello cashed in two more runs as the Jackfish suddenly owned a 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning.

Catcher Justin Marra ripped a double into right-field that bounced up against the fence, allowing for the speedy Vinicio to score with ease, cutting into the Jackfish lead, making it 6-3.

A four-run ninth inning from the Jackfish was highlighted by a three-run home run from shortstop James Smibert off of Julian Valdez.

After they had pulled away from the Maple Leafs, the Jackfish relieved Bradwell of his duties after his dominating eight-inning outing that saw him give up just two runs (one earned) and rack up nine strikeouts. 

The Jackfish recorded the final three outs, as they cruised to a 10-3 win and tied up the series at 1-1.

Game 3 of the now best-of-three series goes tomorrow afternoon at 4:05 p.m.. at Welland Stadium. 

The post game report is brought to you by Woodbine Racetrack, official sponsor of Maple Leafs baseball.