Maple Leafs Hang On to beat Red Sox for First Win of Season

by Ryan Eakin

TORONTO - First of many.

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Brantford Red Sox 3-2 on Sunday afternoon to improve to 1-2 on the season.

The Red Sox go to 0-3.

Toronto starter Zach Sloan took a no-decision in his first start of the 2021 season, throwing four innings of two-run baseball for the home side.

Maple Leafs reliever Rhys Montgomery picked up his first career IBL win, pitching two innings of shutout baseball in relief of Sloan.

Toronto left fielder Grant Tamane led the way at the plate, going two-for-three.

Maple Leafs closer Chris Nagorski picked up his first save since the 2018 playoffs when he was a member of the Barrie Baycats

Brantford starter Yunior Yambatis took the loss, allowing three earned runs on four hits and three walks in six innings of work.

BRANTFORD - 2-6-0

TORONTO - 3-5-3

BIGGEST PLAY OF THE GAME: With the tying run on second base, Nagorski got Jacob Reid to pop out to the second basemen for the final out of the ball game, securing the Leafs their first win of the season.

DID YOU SEE THAT? In the bottom of the sixth inning, Johnathan Solazzo hit a rocket of a double to the left field fence for his first extra base hit of the young season.

BY THE NUMBERS..

2. Maple Leafs second basemen Tage Gollert picked up a couple of RBI on Sunday, with both coming off a two-run RBI double in the fourth inning. 

3. The Leafs scored all three runs in the fourth inning on Sunday.

5. Between Montgomery, Adam Marra, and Nagorski, the Leafs got five shutout innings from their bullpen on Sunday.

INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM...

Maple Leafs manager Damon Topolie on his pitching staff's performance: "It was a well-pitched game, We threw strikes and grinded through this one. It was a tough week but early on, it is just about getting into a routine, so I was happy with the pitching today. They kept us in the ballgame until our offence had a couple of big hits to squeak this one away."

Tamane on his team's pitching: "It was really good. Early on when the bats are not hot, it is important for the pitching to hold us in games. Our pitchers did a great job early on and Nags did a great job closing it out."

Topolie on Nagorski: "Nagorski is a closer. He is a veteran in this league and that is why I have the confidence in him in that situation. He lives for closing situations, so having him is a big plus. Once we add more pieces to the puzzle, our bullpen is only going to get better."

Tamane on the team's three-run fourth inning: "He [Yambatis] started off really strong with his fastball but we could tell he was starting to lose stamina as the game went on. We were able to take advantage of his slower fastball, so we will take our notes from this one knowing we will likely see him again and go from there."

Topolie on Tamane's performance in the nine-hole: "That is why I have him there. He is tough to pitch to, always goes deep in counts, and grinds out at-bats. He got rewarded for his efforts today."

Tamane on his performance: "It is early in the year, so batting at the bottom of the order makes things easier for me because I get to see a lot of fastballs. I am just trying to get my timing down and get ready for the stretch run. It is a long season, so seeing a lot of fastballs this early is good for me."

Tamane on getting the first win out of the way: "It is quite huge. We have had some close games and it is unfortunate that we lost in Barrie, but to get the first one out of the way, it is huge for us."

LOOKING AHEAD...

The Leafs return to action on Thursday when they travel to Kitchener to face the Panthers.

From there, they travel to Welland on Saturday before returning home on Sunday to complete a home-and-home with the Jackfish.

Photo: Craig Aikin 

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