Maple Leafs take down Panthers in extra innings

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs outlasted the Kitchener Panthers in extra innings on Thursday night at Jack Couch Park, winning by a score of 10-8. 

The Panthers struck first in the bottom of the first inning, tagging Wilgenis Alvarado for three runs on a pair of RBI singles from third baseman Nick Parsons and designated hitter Kenny DiClemente. 

Toronto’s hottest hitter, outfielder Ryan Dos Santos answered the bell, mashing a two-run home run to cut the deficit to just one. 

The long ball was in full effect for the Maple Leafs as first baseman Jordan Castaldo left the yard with a monster two-run home run to straightaway centre-field, giving the Maple Leafs their first lead of the game. 

Right-fielder Marcus Knecht followed suit, blasting a solo home run to give Toronto the 5-3 lead after just three innings of play.

Dos Santos struck yet again, hitting a solo blast this time in the sixth inning, extending Toronto’s lead yet again.  

The 25-year-old finished the game with two hits, both home runs, on four at-bats, adding three RBI and three runs scored, raising his batting average to a team-leading .341.

One inning later, catcher Justin Marra cashed in a run on a single to centre-field, making it now a 7-3 lead for the visiting Maple Leafs. 

After making quick work of the Panthers, Wilgenis Alvarado surrendered three more earned runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, highlighted by a three-run home run off the bat of shortstop Raul Gonzalez. 

The bottom of the eighth inning saw the Panthers manufacture a run off of Greg Carrington via an infield single courtesy of centre-fielder Blake Jacklin. 

With the game now tied at seven, the Maple Leafs brought in Dustin Richardson to keep the Panthers in check. 

After a scoreless ninth inning from both sides, the two teams headed for extra innings, where the Maple Leafs put up three runs highlighted by an RBI double off the bat of shortstop Jose Vinicio. 

Now leading by three, Richardson surrendered one run in the bottom half of the inning off of a sac-fly, but that was all he would allow as Toronto came away with the exciting 10-8 win. 

The Maple Leafs take on the London Majors on Friday night at Labatt Memorial Park, first pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.