Maple Leafs Come Back Late Against Majors
The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the London Majors in a rematch of the 2021 and 2022 IBL Finals by a score of 5-4 thanks to a rally in the eighth inning.
“That [winning the game] was the goal for today, to win the home opener in front of all the fans on Mother’s Day,” said Maple Leafs left-fielder J.J. Dutton following the game.
Pitcher Julian Valdez struck out three batters over his first three innings as a member of the Maple Leafs, while walking in the first run of the game in the top of the first as the visiting Majors got out to an early 1-0 lead.
Majors’ pitcher Owen Boon built off of his perfect 10-0 season just one year ago by shutting down the Maple Leafs with five scoreless innings that featured 10 strikeouts, including four straight punchouts between the bottom of the first and second innings.
Relief pitcher Sam Greene entered the game for the Maple Leafs in the top of the fourth inning and struck out the first two batters he saw.
Greene capped off his brilliant first inning of relief with a successful pickoff attempt on Majors’ left-fielder Andrew Lawrence after he singled and reached second on an error.
Greene faced some trouble in the top of the fifth, surrendering a leadoff single and then a booming double off of the right-centre field wall to the leadoff hitter Austin Wilkie.
A sac-fly from Cleveland Brownlee extended the Majors lead to two after five innings.
The Majors continued to build off of the momentum and scraped across another pair of runs after some defensive miscues from the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs bats awoke in the bottom of the eighth inning as Yoichi Ishihara - who pinch-hit for Robin Fox-Pappas midway through the game - ripped a double down the third base line to bring in the first run of the season for Toronto, making it a 4-1 ballgame.
A single from Dan Marra kept the ball rolling, bringing in two runs, cutting the deficit to just one as Marra made his way to second base on a fielding error from Majors centre-fielder Wilkie.
First-year Maple Leaf J.J. Dutton swung at the first pitch offered from Majors reliever Braeden Ferrington - who suffered his first loss in the IBL since 2019- and brought in the tying run on the double.
A broken-bat ground ball to first base from Ryan Santos got the best of Majors first-baseman Daniel Battel and saw the centre-fielder beat out the throw to Ferrington who was covering the base.
Amidst the chaos at first base, Dutton broke for home and beat the throw from Ferrington to give the Maple Leafs their first lead of the game.
“Once I saw there was a little issue at first base, I sprinted as hard as I could . . . I was looking to seal the deal there,” said Dutton.
Adam Marra entered the game for the Maple Leafs and made quick work of the Major’s heart of the order, giving the Maple Leafs their first win of the year.
The Maple Leafs will travel to Barrie, Ont. as they take on the Barrie Baycats on Thursday night, first pitch is set for 7:35 p.m.