Woodbine Racetrack Game Report: Knecht Puts on a Show as Leafs Go Up 2-0 on Jackfish
TORONTO - The Marcus Knecht Show.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hit eight home runs on Sunday en route to a 14-7 game two win over the Welland Jackfish to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in their best-of-five semifinal series.
Toronto starter Dustin Richardson took a no-decision after allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and two walks in four-plus innings pitched.
Maple Leafs reliever Dylan Jacober picked up the victory with his best outing of the season.
The former Western Mustang threw four hitless and scoreless innings in relief of Richardson.
Maple Leafs right fielder Marcus Knecht had a historic day at the plate, going four-for-five with three home runs, with the third one hitting the clubhouse in one of the longest hit home runs you will ever seen at the ballpark.
Welland starter Chris Lazar took the loss in a game that was supposed to be started by Mike Wagner.
The former Hamilton Cardinal allowed six earned runs on four hits and one walk in just two-plus innings pitched.
WELLAND - 7-8-3
TORONTO - 14-14-0
BIGGEST PLAY OF THE GAME: Up 5-2 in the bottom of the third inning, Knecht hit his second of three home runs to give the Leafs a 7-2 lead.
The Jackfish made the game interesting at points but the game was never really in doubt after the home run.
DID YOU SEE THAT? Seriously, though. Did you see Knecht's home run off the clubhouse?
BY THE NUMBERS...
3. Just three strikeouts for Toronto batters.
4. The Leafs turn four double-plays, with Jacober starting a 1-4-3 double play of his own in the fifth inning.
8. A season-high eight home runs for the Leafs between Knecht, shortstop Jose Vinicio, catcher Justin Marra, first basemen Jordan Castaldo, third basemen Johnathan Solazzo, and left fielder Greg Carrington.
13. 13 combined home runs between the Leafs and Jackfish, as Welland hit five home runs of their own.
INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM...
Maple Leafs manager Garrett Takamatsu on the home runs being hit in the game: "I wish I could have played that game but it is just as fun to watch it. The guys were playing awesome. Any day at the Pits is unpredictable and today just proves it."
Takamatsu on when he knew this game was going to be a slugfest: "During batting practice," laughed the 2021 IBL MVP. "When it is below 20 degrees here the ball flies. When I got to the park and also saw the wind blowing around, I knew it was going to be a pretty high scoring game."
Takamatsu on Knecht: "That is the best I have ever seen someone hit in a game. The last past couple of games he has been pretty hot and is seeing the ball so well right now. Every time he comes up to the plate I feel like he is going to do something productive for us."
Knecht on where this game ranks for him in his career: "It ranks pretty high up there. I just try to stay focused and do what works, and then repeat that over and over no matter what happens in previous at-bats. I strung some hits together and gave the fans something they like to watch."
Knecht on the quality at-bats by the lineup: "Our nine-hole hitter hit a home run and sac fly today and we needed that. One-to-nine our lineup can do anything on any pitch, so it is exciting seeing everyone paying attention and having fun."
Maple Leafs general manager and designated hitter Damon Topolie on Jacober's outing: "It was a tight game when he came in and showed up in a big moment. It was just an awesome performance. He filled the zone up."
Topolie on not blowing the lead: "This is what every game at the Pits is like. They said no lead is ever safe and that is true. The biggest thing is bending but not breaking -- you can't break. It's playoff baseball and anything can happen.
Game three goes Tuesday in Welland.
Photo: Craig Aikin