Maple Leafs come up short against Baycats

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost 5-4 to the Barrie Baycats on Thursday night at Vintage Throne Stadium, starting off the 2024 season with an 0-2 record. 

Third baseman Johnathan Solazzo put the Maple Leafs up early with a sacrifice-fly in the top of the first inning that brought home the speedy shortstop Jose Vinicio. 

Maple Leafs starting pitcher Sam Green worked swiftly with his one run cushion, tossing three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five batters. 

Right-handed pitcher Max Lanoue made his debut in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) in the fourth inning. 

The rookie walked the first four batters he faced, forcing the tying run to cross the plate before striking out the next two batters he faced. 

The visiting Maple Leafs escaped the jam and put up two runs in the top of the fifth inning.

An RBI single from second baseman Dan Marra scored the go-ahead run, while Solazzo scored shortly after on a fielding error from Baycats third baseman Hayden Jaco. 

The two runs were given up by Baycats pitcher Frank Garces, who entered in the fifth inning after Juan Benitez’s day was cut short after four innings of work. 

Julian Tymochko entered the game in relief for Toronto in the seventh inning, looking to build off of his solid outing on Sunday where he logged a scoreless inning.

Tymochko surrendered a leadoff triple to Baycats centre-fielder Canice Ejoh, before a sac-fly from second baseman Adam Odd brought him in to score.

Heading into the eighth inning with the 3-2 lead, the Maple Leafs brought in the technical lefty Adam Marra.

After allowing the first two batters to reach base, Marra sat down the next two batters he faced on strikes, showing resilience battling through the early threat. 

Ejoh struck yet again, jumping on Marra for a three-run home run that would ultimately lead the Baycats to victory. 

While in the top of the ninth inning, the Maple Leafs found themselves with the bases loaded and zero outs. 

One run was all they were able to muster thanks to a sac-fly from Dan Marra, before Garces settled in and recorded his ninth and 10th strikeout of the night. 

Garces was rewarded with the win, posting five innings of relief that saw him give up two earned runs. 

The Maple Leafs will head to Hastings Stadium on Saturday for a matchup against the Guelp Royals. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m..