Maple Leafs Offence Too Much For Royals

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Guelph Royals on Sunday at Dominico Field by a score of 14-10 to get back in the win column after dropping their last two games. 

With the win, the Maple Leafs improve to 8-5 and move up to second place in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) standings. 

Daniel Procopio got the start for the Maple Leafs and lasted four-and-one-third innings pitched, giving up nine hits and seven earned runs. 

The first two runs of the game came in the top of the first inning off of the bat of Royals centre-fielder J.D. Williams, as he hit a single that brought in two runs. 

The Maple Leafs were quick to respond, a sac-fly from first baseman Jordan Castaldo and a team-leading sixth home run from third baseman Johnathan Solazzo saw the game knotted at two after the first inning of play.

Royals shortstop Brando Leroux recorded his first of a team-high three RBI in the top of the second inning with a base hit to shallow right field, giving his squad the lead yet again. 

The Maple Leafs exploded for six runs in the bottom of the third inning, highlighted by RBI doubles from left-fielder Jesse Hodges and centre-fielder Connor Lewis, as well as a pair of RBI singles from second baseman Dan Marra and right-fielder Greg Carrington.

“It was good to see the boys put the bat on the ball," said Hodges following the game. 

Marra would go on to finish with three hits including a double to deep left-field, bringing his hit streak to three games with seven hits over that stretch. 

The top of the fourth inning saw two more runs cross the plate for the Royals, an RBI double from third baseman Corey Morro and a base hit from right-fielder Ethan Hammond that scored Morro made it an 8-5 ballgame. 

After scoring two runs in the top of the fifth inning, the Royals loaded the bases with one out. Morro stepped up to the plate and delivered a fly ball to left field.

Hodges, manning the left field position, camped under the ball and delivered a strike to home plate to gun down the runner as the Maple Leafs hung on to an 8-7 lead after five innings.

Into the game came Yuki Narita for the Royals, the Maple Leafs tagged the right-hander for another six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Catcher Justin Marra left the yard for his fourth home run of the year, only to be followed up by a booming two-run home run from Hodges - his first as a Maple Leaf.

“I’d say it was 20 at-bats too late,” Hodges said about his home run with a chuckle after the game. “I got the pitch I wanted with two strikes and I capitalized.”

An RBI double from Lewis was followed up by a base hit up the middle from Carrington - who finished the game with a game-high four RBI - that scored another two runs as the Maple Leafs now led 14-7.

The Maple Leafs finished with 20 hits, the highest hit total in a game this season.

“I think honestly, one through nine, we have a lot of three and four hole hitters,” said Hodges. “When you have a lineup that’s stacked like that, you’re going to get a lot of hits.”

Hodges added that he believes the Maple Leafs have “the best lineup in the league” and that he is fully committed to his team.

After Maple Leafs pitcher Ryan Wells - who recorded his first win of the season - shut the door for one-and-two-third innings, James Wilson took over for the home team. 

Wilson surrendered three runs, all earned, in the top of the seventh inning until Wilgenis Alvarado came into the game in the eighth inning and recorded five of his six outs via the strikeout, to give the Maple Leafs a 14-10 win.

The Maple Leafs get the next two days off before they host the Barrie Baycats on Wednesday night at Dominico Field. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m.