Maple Leafs Hand Panthers First Loss of Season
The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Kitchener Panthers by a score of 14-9 on Thursday night at Jack Couch Park, handing the Panthers their first loss of the season.
The free pass was the demise of the Panthers, serving up a whopping 14 walks to the visiting Maple Leafs, who pounced on the countless opportunities and cashed in big in the third inning.
Johnathan Solazzo picked up right where he left off, hitting his second home run in as many games, opening the scoring with a three-run blast in the top of the first inning.
Julian Valdez got the nod for his second start of the year. The 24-year-old lasted four innings, giving up five runs - four earned - on seven hits while striking out four batters.
Panthers centre-fielder Andy Leader took Valdez deep in the bottom half of the first inning to get his squad on the board early.
The home team exploded for four runs in the bottom of the second inning, highlighted by an Elliott Curtis home run to give the Panthers a 5-3 lead after a pair of RBI singles tied the game up at three.
The top of the third inning is where disaster struck for the Panthers as the first three base runners found their way on base via the walk.
Yoichi Ishihara then brought it in the fourth run of the game as the Maple Leafs now found themselves down one early on.
Robin Fox-Pappas, Ryan Dos Santos and David Alvarez were all issued walks as three more runs came in for the Maple Leafs.
The tide had turned as the visitors now sat with a 7-5 lead with the bases loaded, no outs and the top of the order due up.
Panthers field manager Bill Matetich made the call to the bullpen and brought in Jacob Douglas to replace Nathan Laird in an attempt to stop the bleeding.
Douglas retired Jose Vinicio and Justin Marra before another walk and a wild pitch allowed two more runs to score for the Maple Leafs who led 9-5 after four innings.
The Panthers went back-to-back in the bottom of the fifth inning, a two-run blast from first-baseman Liam Wilson followed by a mammoth shot from shortstop Raul Gonzalez that cleared the scoreboard in left field, to cut the lead down to one.
The visiting Maple Leafs responded with five runs of their own over the next two innings, a Justin Murray RBI double in the top of the sixth followed by a four-run, seventh inning, highlighted by an RBI single from Greg Carrington as well as Ryan Dos Santos’ team high fourth walk of the game, this one bringing in Carrington to score.
Vinicio was hit by the first pitch offered from the big righty David Bruinsma to bring the Maple Leafs run total up to 14.
A combined five innings of one-run baseball from relievers Adam Marra - who got his first win of the year - Ryan Wells, James Wilson and Chris Nagorski sealed the deal for the Maple Leafs as they walked away with a 14-9 win.
The Maple Leafs get tomorrow off before hitting the road and travelling to Brantford, Ont. to take on the Brantford Red Sox on Saturday. First pitch is set for 8:00 p.m.