Maple Leafs Get Walked-Off By Jackfish

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs got walked-off by the Welland Jackfish on Saturday night at Welland Stadium in a low scoring affair, losing 2-1.

Maple Leafs starter Wilgenis Alvarado was on point, going eight flawless innings, giving up no runs on four hits while striking out three batters. 

Jackfish starting pitcher Jake Harford out-did himself with his best start of the season; seven innings pitched that featured just one run while striking out seven batters. 

After first baseman Jordan Castaldo led off the top of the fourth inning with a walk, the Maple Leafs looked to the heart of their order to get on board. 

Second baseman Garrett Takamatsu grounded a ball to Jackfish third baseman James Smibert, who started the double play to quickly get two outs. 

Maple Leafs third baseman Johnathan Solazzo broke the deadlock with a booming home run over the right field wall to give the visitors the 1-0 lead. 

With the solo blast, Solazzo takes sole lead for home runs in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) with nine. 

Alvarado continued to cruise, retiring 12 of the next 14 batters he faced to keep the Jackfish scoreless.

After Jose Vinicio ripped a single into centre-field to lead off the sixth inning, the speedy shortstop stole second base and advanced to third base on the throw from Jackfish catcher Sam Cawker that made its way into the outfield. 

Vinicio, in an attempt to catch the opponent sleeping, made a break for the plate. The relay from the Jackfish beat him home, ending the inning as the game remained 1-0. 

The Jackfish turned to Brandon Underhill in the eighth inning. The 24-year-old got through his only inning of work, giving up only one hit and striking out one batter. 

The ninth inning came along and in came Deivy Mendez, the IBL save-leader saw some trouble as Vinicio led off the inning with a single - his game-high third hit of the day. Vinicio made his way to third base via a stolen base and a flyout from catcher Justin Marra to give the Maple Leafs a runner on third with only one out.

With the two stolen bases, Vinicio now shares the lead for stolen bases in the IBL at 14. 

The bats could not cash Vinicio as the Maple Leafs headed to the bottom of the ninth inning, holding on to their 1-0 lead. 

Into the game came Julian Valdez to try and close it out for the Maple Leafs. 

A leadoff walk from Cawker was paired with a single up the middle from Smibert, only to be followed by a wild pitch, as the Jackfish now had the winning run in scoring position with nobody out. 

First baseman McCoy Pearce ripped a double in between the centre-fielder and right-fielder, both runners scored with ease as the Jackfish recorded their first lead of the game when it mattered most - at the end. 

The Maple Leafs will take on the Hamilton Cardinals tomorrow afternoon at Dominico Field at 2:00 p.m.