Maple Leafs fall late to Baycats

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Barrie Baycats in some late-game dramatics by a score of 12-10 on Wednesday night at Dominico Field. 

With the loss, the Maple Leafs have their three game win streak snapped and sit in fourth place in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) standings with a one-and-a-half game lead on the Hamilton Cardinals.

Jesse Hodges got the nod for his second start of the year, looking to build off of his brilliant performance one calendar month ago against the London Majors that saw him put up a strong five innings and get credited with the win. 

The Bayacts got to Hodges early, as a double from left-fielder Noel McGarry-Doyle and a single from first baseman Malik Williams drove in a run each, giving the Baycats the early 2-0 lead. 

Juan Benitez, who lasted six innings on July 12 against the Maple Leafs took to the mound for his eighth start of the year. 

The Maple Leafs responded quickly after giving up two runs in the top half of the first inning with three runs of their own, an RBI single from Jordan Castaldo was immediately followed by a two-run home run to right field off the bat of left-fielder Garrett Takamatsu. 

Castaldo went on to finish with a perfect day at the plate, going 3-3 with three runs scored, three RBI and a walk.

Working with a one-run lead, Hodges got through the remainder of his five innings of work giving up just one more run. 

A ground ball in the bottom of the third inning from right-fielder Aidan McAskie got the best of Baycats first baseman Malik Williams which allowed for a run to score, making it a 4-2 ballgame. 

Jose Vinicio led off the bottom of the fourth inning for the Maple Leafs and made his way aboard via a bloop single to centre-field. 

The speedy shortstop did what he does best and stole second base, his second stolen base of the day. 

With the two stolen bases, Vinicio brings his tally up to 22 on the season, leading the IBL. He would later score on a sac-fly from Castaldo, extending the Maple Leafs lead to three. 

Vinicio would reach on a walk the following inning, forcing in another run for the Maple Leafs who owned a 6-2 lead through five innings. 

After pitcher Chirs Nagorski gave up a single to Baycats catcher Jose Cote that cut the deficit to three, the 33-year-old induced an inning-ending double play to limit the damage. 

Castaldo took advantage of the momentum generated from the defensive play and drove the first pitch he saw from Bayacts pitcher Chris Cox over the left-field fence for his fourth home run of the year, extending the Maple Leafs lead to 7-3. 

The Baycats hung around and tacked on another run in the top of the seventh inning, this one coming via a sac-fly from right-fielder Avery Tuck. But that was all they would get as Nagorski induced yet another inning-ending double play. 

The Bayacts took advantage of a wild pitch and a throwing error from Maple Leafs catcher Justin Marra to make it a two-run game heading to the bottom of the eighth inning. 

Connor Lewis, Maple Leafs centre-fielder drove in his lone RBI on the day with a sac-fly to centre-field, giving the Maple Leafs an 8-6 lead with three outs to go. 

Tuck, who led off the inning with a walk, was later tagged out at home trying to score on a passed ball by a diving Marra who had his outstretched hand beat the runner to the plate, getting the first out of the inning. 

Julian Valdez entered the game in an attempt to close it out but quickly saw himself faced with the bases loaded and one out. 

The Bayacts strung together four consecutive singles to put up a whopping six runs and take their first lead of the game since the first inning. 

Stunned, the seemingly lifeless Maple Leafs went into the bottom of the ninth trailing 12-8.

A deep fly ball from Marra that was tracked down and caught by Baycats centre-fielder Canice Ejoh made for a loud first out. 

While the Maple Leafs were able to put up two more runs in their last attempt at a comeback, that was all they would get, as the ninth inning rally from the Baycats that sent 11 batters to the plate got the best of them, falling by a score of 12-10. 

The Maple Leafs take on the London Majors in a home-and-home series, with the first game taking place Friday night at Labatt Memorial Stadium at 7:35 p.m. before coming back home on Sunday for the second of two games. 

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