Maple Leafs Lose Heartbreaker to Baycats in extras

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Barrie Baycats in heartbreaking fashion, losing in extra innings by a score of 5-3. 

With the loss, the Maple Leafs have lost three of their last four games, falling to fifth place in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL). 

The game got off to a quick start for both teams, the Baycats hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning to get out to an early 3-0 lead.

Shortstop Starlin Rodriguez hit a two-run home run to straightaway centre-field, only to be followed by a solo blast to left field from DH Ryan Rijo. 

The Maple Leafs were quick to respond however, DH Garrett Takamatsu blooped a single over the first baseman Hayden Jaco’s head that scored their first run of the game. 

Catcher Justin Marra scored a couple of pitches later on a pass ball to cut the deficit to just one. 

After the Baycats had one man aboard with one out in the top of the second inning, Maple Leafs shortstop Jose Vinicio made his first of two highlight-reel plays to get his team out of the inning. 

Maple Leafs pitcher Sam Greene settled in after giving up the two runs in the first inning, going a strong five innings, giving up just those three runs while striking out eight batters. 

Baycats pitcher Juan Benitez kept up with his counterpart, posting six innings pitched, giving up only two runs while striking out four. 

In what quickly turned into a pitchers duel, the game remained 3-2 until the eighth inning. 

After J.J. Dutton entered the game in the eighth inning for Aidan McAskie in left field, the 20-year-old made an incredible diving catch, only to manufacture the tying run in the bottom half of the inning. 

With two outs and a runner on second, Dutton popped a ball up behind second base. Baycats second baseman Kyle Maves had the ball tip off of his glove and drop, as the runner scored with ease, tying the game up at three. 

The Maple Leafs turned to all three of the new faces in their bullpen: Taylor Lepard, Evan Elliott and Dustin Richardson, the three combined for three shutout innings, allowing just one hit, one walk and racking up six strikeouts.

The Maple Leafs pitching staff went on to record a whopping 16 strikeouts and give up only five hits.  

After relievers Adam Khan and Brad Grieveson shut down the Maple Leafs, the game was headed to extra innings. 

The 10th inning saw Adam Marra and Julian Valdez escape the ghost runner on second situation with a pair of ground outs, giving the Maple Leafs a chance to win. 

The Maple Leafs failed to score with bases loaded and zero outs in the bottom of the inning, so onto the 11th the game went. 

After Valdez intentionally walked Rodriguez, he was faced with the tall task of facing one of the IBL’s best hitters, Rijo, who already had a home run on the day.

It took Valdez only one pitch, but the Maple Leafs rolled the 4-6-3 double play to get out of the inning, firing up the team who was looking to end it this time around. 

The Maple Leafs - yet again - found themselves in a bases loaded, zero outs situation before the unthinkable happened. 

First baseman Jordan Castaldo roped a ball from Grieveson to first base that was snagged by Jaco, who then dove and tagged the runner at first, only to then throw the ball to third base to beat the runner, completing the triple play as the Baycats went into a frenzy.

Building off of the momentum that teeter-tottered for the past four innings, the Baycats scored two runs off of an RBI walk from Maves and a wild pitch to make it a 5-3 game. 

Unable to make anything in the bottom of the 12th inning, the Maple Leafs came up short against the Baycats for the third time this year.

This marks the fourth consecutive loss where the Maple Leafs have lost by two runs or less. 

The Maple Leafs are back at it on the weekend as they face the Brantford Red Sox on Saturday at Arnold Anderson Stadium at 8:00 p.m., before hosting the IBL-leading Welland Jackfish on Sunday at Dominico Field. 

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