Maple Leafs lose to Majors for first time in 2023

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the London Majors for the first time this season on Friday night at Labatt Memorial Park in London, Ont. by a score of 16-7.

After losing back-to-back games, the Maple Leafs drop to an even 16-16 record and still sit in fourth place in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) standings. 

Although Grant Tamane, the left-fielder, got the Maple Leafs on the board early with an RBI single in the top of the second inning, the Majors responded quickly and often.

A bottom of the second inning that featured two home runs from the home team quickly turned the game around. 

A grand slam from centre-fielder Austin Wilkie was followed up by a two-run home run from catcher Eduardo De Oleo to give the Majors a 6-1 lead. 

With the two-run shot, De Oleo has hit six home runs in his last four games, totalling 12 on the year, he is tied for the most home runs in the IBL. 

The Maple Leafs would get back a couple of runs in the top of the fourth inning by capitalizing off of an error and a fielder’s choice, however the Majors would respond with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, giving themselves an 8-3 lead.

Maple Leafs starter Sam Greene was done for the day after four innings of work. The 26-year-old was charged with his second loss of the year after he gave up eight runs on 11 hits. 

Tamane tallied his team-leading second RBI of the day in the sixth inning with a double to left-field that scored third-baseman Johnathan Solazzo, cutting into the Majors lead.

The RBI double would call for the end of Majors starting pitcher Wilbur Martinez’s day, who was credited with his second win of the year after giving up three runs on six hits in five-and-two-thirds innings pitched. 

The Majors - yet again - quickly responded with more runs of their own, left-fielder Starling Joseph ripped a ground-rule double that scored a run. Joseph would come around to score one of the two runs that came in courtesy of a base hit from De Oleo. 

Joseph would go on to finish with a game-high four hits and was also one of three Majors players to record three RBI.

The Maple Leafs trailed 11-5 heading into the seventh inning until they tacked on another three runs. A pair of sac-flies from second baseman Dan Marra and DH Garrett Takamatsu each cashed one run, with the other run scored courtesy of a Solazzo base hit to right-field. 

Just as the Majors had done all day, they kept the pressure on the Maple Leafs by immediately answering with runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning after giving up a run. 

Joseph’s base hit that scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning made it a 13-8 ballgame, seemingly putting the game out of reach until DH Cleveland Brownlee and infielder Robert Mackie each hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. 

The solo blast from Brownlee and the two-run shot from Mackie were the nails in the coffin, as the Majors rallied for 20 hits en route to the 16-7 win.

The two teams will face off against each other for the sixth and final time on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at Dominico Field.

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