Maple Leafs advance to semifinals with 10-4 win

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs advanced to the semifinals of the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) Playoffs with a 10-4 win over the Guelph Royals on Wednesday night. 

With the series win, the Maple Leafs have advanced to three consecutive semifinals, dating back to the 2021 season. 

It was a rematch of Game 1 on the mound with Wilgenis Alvarado and Claudio Custodio starting for their squads. 

Alvarado surrendered two runs in the bottom of the first inning. 

After the leadoff and number two hitter both made their way on base, the lefty Alvarado sat down the next two batters he faced, bringing himself one out away from escaping the early jam.

A base hit from none other than Custodio cashed both runners, giving himself and the Royals a two run lead to work with. 

It took no time for the visiting team to respond, exploding for a whopping seven runs in the the top of the second inning that sent 11 men to the plate.

A pair of RBI base hits from left-fielder Jesse Hodges and first baseman Jordan Castaldo scored three runs, while catcher Justin Marra and shortstop Jose Vinicio both made their way on base via back-to-back walks with the bases loaded, forcing in another two runs. 

The pair of walks spelt the end of Custodio’s day, a rare one-and-two-thirds innings pitched saw the 32-year-old Custodio give up six earned runs on one hit and four walks. 

Yuki Narita entered the game in relief and surrendered a double down the right-field line to DH Garrett Takamatsu, capping off the big inning for the Maple Leafs who suddenly led 7-2.

Alvarado settled in after the first inning, giving up only one run in the third and fourth innings, including a second RBI single from Custodio, while the Maple Leafs cashed in their eighth run of the game in the fourth inning on a sac-fly from third baseman John Solazzo.

Custodio would finish with a perfect three-for-three day at the plate and recorded three of the Royals’ four RBI.  

A scoreless fifth inning from both sides saw Alvarado’s day come to an end, he finished with the win and five strikeouts in five innings with his Maple Leafs leading 8-4.

The four runs were all the Royals would get as the Maple Leafs trio of Julian Valdez, Adam Marra and Marek Deska combined for four scoreless innings, while the offence tacked on two more runs, one in the sixth inning on a sac-fly from right-fielder Greg Carrington and another in the eighth on a wild pitch. 

The Maple Leafs cruised to their third win in the best-of-five series with the 10-4 win and will wait for the rest of the first round to conclude - which will determine their opponent in the semifinals.

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