Woodbine Racetrack Game Report: Leafs Fry Jackfish; Advance to Finals Again
TORONTO - Donut racing season is over.
The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Welland Jackfish 9-5 on Thursday evening to advance to the Jack and Lynne Dominico Cup Finals for the second season in a row.
Toronto starter Angel Castro delivered a performance that the Christie Faithful will not soon forget, striking out a season-high 12 Jackfish batters through seven innings pitched.
The Leafs ace allowed five earned runs.
Maple Leafs right fielder Marcus Knecht ontinued his dominant series, going three-for-four with a home run.
Toronto closer Franklin Hernandez recorded a six-out save, with all six outs coming via strikeouts.
Welland starter Jake Harford was lit up for the second time in the series, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and three walks in just two innings.
WELLAND - 5-8-1
TORONTO - 9-11-0
BIGGEST PLAY OF THE GAME: Tied at zero in the bottom of the first, Knecht hit a two-run single to left field to give the Leafs a 2-0 lead.
The game was never tied again.
DID YOU SEE THAT? Hernandez got Jackfish right fielder Justin Gideon to strike out to begin the ninth inning via a swinging strikeout.
Gideon, who requested a trade from Hamilton to the at-the-time first-place Jackfish, broke his bat walking back to the dugout.
BY THE NUMBERS...
2. With the win, the Leafs advance to the finals for the second year in a row and for the third time since 2016.
3. The Jackfish ran into three outs in game four, despite trailing 4-0 after the first inning.
4. A pair of golden sombreros on Tuesday, with one going to Jackfish third basemen Mattingly Romanin and the other going to Gideon.
136. A 136-pitch performance from Castro.
INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM...
Maple Leafs general manager and designated hitter Damon Topolie on Castro: "That's a horse. That's an ace. He doesn't care if he's winning or losing because he's going to go after people no matter what. That was just a phenomenal performance."
Topolie on the team keeping Castro in the game despite an elevated pitch count: "Like I said, he is an ace. He knows what he is doing. He's played baseball all over the world and is a professional. Sometimes, you just have to ride your ace."
Topolie on the team battling through the adversity they have battled through this calendar year: "We are a veteran team who have been through a lot. This was a goal of ours -- to get back into the finals. It didn't matter who we were facing. We just needed to battle and be ready."
Longtime Maple Leaf Justin Marra on what this win means to the franchise: "The one recently with Papa Tops [Damon's dad Peter Topolie, who passed away on Sunday], hurt. When Tops talked to us prior to game two, we knew we wanted to get this for him. We are not finished yet. We want to win this for him and for Jack [Dominico] who we lost prior to the season. This means a lot for sure."
Marra on Hernandez: "He has some of the more electric stuff that I have seen in this league in a long time. There have been some good arms here but when he is going, he's got some of the more electric stuff. You see it day-in, day-out when he is throwing that slider. It's pretty devastating."
The Leafs will face the winner of the London Majors-Cardinals semifinals series.
Photo: Craig Aikin