Maple Leafs Hold Off Majors For 7-5 win

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs stayed perfected (3-0) against the reigning Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) champion London Majors on Friday night with a 7-5 win at Labatt Memorial Park. 

Maple Leafs pitcher Sam Greene logged another strong start, this time surrendering just two hits and one run in five innings of work while striking out six, to pick up his third win of the year and improve to 3-1. 

The Maple Leafs gave Greene a seven run lead to work with that started with two runs in the top of the first inning. 

After Majors starting pitcher Anfernee Benitez walked the first four batters of the game to bring in the first run, first baseman Robin Fox-Pappas hit a single up the middle to score third baseman Johnathan Solazzo. 

A base hit in the top of the second inning from centre-fielder J.J. Dutton scored shortstop Jose Vinicio, only to be followed by a walk from right-fielder David Alvarez to make it a 4-0 game for the visitors. 

The Maple Leafs rallied with two outs and nobody on base in the top of the third inning to bring in another two runs courtesy of a wild pitch from Benitez and a walk from Solazzo.

The top-four batters for the Maple Leafs went on to combine for 11 of the teams 15 walks, four of which came from Solazzo and catcher Justin Marra, who are tied for the most walks in the IBL with 16.  

Benitez’s day was done after going two-and-two-thirds innings pitched while giving up six earned runs on a whopping 11 walks, into the game came Skylar Janisse for the Majors. 

Yoichi Ishihara gave the Maple Leafs their biggest lead of the game in the top of the fourth inning, the outfielder’s base hit to right field allowed for Alvarez to cross the plate with ease, extending the lead to seven. 

The Majors eventually got to Greene, scoring their first run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning courtesy of an RBI single from centre-fielder Andrew Lawrence. 

Julian Tymochko made his first appearance of the season for the Maple Leafs, coming into the game to relieve Greene. The McMaster University product struck out the side in his only inning of relief, but not before walking three batters and giving up a run on a wild pitch. 

The Majors tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, this time off of Julian Valdez - an RBI single off the bat of left fielder Myles Miller and a sac fly from second baseman Tommy Reyes-Cruz. 

The Maple Leafs now saw their lead cut to just three, owning a 7-4 lead with two innings to play.

Valdez came back out for the eighth inning and served up a leadoff home run to Majors right-fielder Starling Joseph before getting through the rest of the inning. 

The Maple Leafs turned to Wilgenis Alvarado in the ninth inning, looking to shut the door on the Majors. 

The 23-year-old out of Venezuela gave up a leadoff single to Miller - who finished with a game-high three hits - then hit Reyes-Cruz with a pitch to give the Majors two base runners with zero outs. 

Alvarado settled in afterwards and struck out the next three batters he faced, recording his first save of the season and giving the Maple Leafs the 7-5 win. 

The Maple Leafs return home to face the Brantford Red Sox on Sunday at Dominico Field, first pitch is at 2:00 p.m.