Takamatsu's late home run gives Maple Leafs win

By Rob Vona

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Guelph Royals in 10 innings on Saturday night at Hastings Stadium by a score of 5-3 to take a 1-0 series lead in the first round of the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) Playoffs.

The Maple Leafs capitalized on a fielding error from Royals right-fielder Ashton Patterson in the second inning to take the lead.

The Royals however were quick to respond, as DH Justin Interisano led off the bottom half of the second inning with a home run, knotting the game up at one.

The Royals tacked on another run in the bottom of the third inning courtesy of an RBI base hit from third baseman Malik Collymore, giving the Royals the one-run lead. 

Royals starting pitcher Hector Yan was in a groove, striking out seven consecutive Maple Leaf batters between the fourth, fifth and sixth innings en route to his 16 strikeout performance.

Maple Leafs starting pitcher Jesse Hodges saw his day end in the bottom of the sixth inning with a runner on second base, the runner would later come around to score on a sac-fly as the Royals now led 3-1 after six innings of play.

Hodges was charged with all three runs in his five-and-one-third innings pitched that saw him punch out five batters.

Sam Greene entered the game in relief for Hodges and shut the door, going two scoreless innings giving up only two hits and striking out three. 

The Maple Leafs got to Yan after what seemed like an eternity, a double down the left-field line from shortstop Jose Vinicio scored a run to cut the deficit to just one.

Yuki Narita entered the game in relief for Yan, who left with the responsibility of Vinicio on second base. 

Vinicio, the IBL stolen base leader (26), put the pressure on Royals catcher Brendan Keys as he made a break for third base. Keys overthrew the third baseman and Vinicio trotted home with ease, tying the game up at three.

Vinicio finished the game with a team-high three hits.

A scoreless eighth and ninth inning from both sides saw the game go into the 10th inning where Maple Leafs first baseman Jordan Castaldo made his way aboard with a base hit.

Left-fielder Garrett Takamatsu unloaded on a 2-2 offering from Narita, hitting a two-run home run to give the Maple Leafs the 5-3 lead, their second lead of the game - and their first since the second inning.

Dustin Richardson came back out for the Maple Leafs in the 10th inning after recording the last two outs in the ninth inning. 

Richardson gave up a single, but that was all the Royals could muster as the big lefty struck out three batters in his one-and-two-thirds innings pitched that saw him, and the Maple Leafs take home the win.

The two teams travel back to Dominico Field tomorrow for the remainder of Thursday’s series opener, before continuing the series with Game 3. 

First pitch is scheduled at 12:00 p.m..

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