BRANTFORD RED SOX 9, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 7
By Michael Radoslav
A solid start was spoiled by an eighth inning collapse as the first place Brantford Red Sox swept the season series over the Maple Leafs with a 9-7 win on Sunday.
“We just need to believe,” said starting pitcher Clay Caufield. “Everyone is here for a reason.”
Caufield had a solid outing on the day going seven complete innings surrendering two runs on seven hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
“For the most part I was able to locate,” said Caufield. “It was a simple game plan of hitting spots, coming in on guys. When you got decent stuff you can get batters out.”
Toronto also opened the scoring early in the first inning as well. After lead-off hitters Glen Jackson and Branfy Arias got on base against Red Sox pitcher Andy St. Gelias, Jordan Castaldo drove them home to put the Leafs up 2-0. Rob Gillis added to the scoring with a two-run home run shot in the fourth inning to give Toronto a 4-0 lead.
After a 9-3 win over Hamilton on Friday, Toronto once again provided a strong hitting effort on Sunday, recording 12 hits on the afternoon.
“The guys halfway through the season are taking a better approach to the ball, we’re hitting the ball harder, and really getting a flow to the offence,” said Gillis. “It’s great to have guys in the same position in the lineup. You’re starting to see the first of the benefits.”
Caufield ran into some adversity in the seventh inning with Lee Delfino and Jason Gotwalt hitting back-to-back homers to start the inning.
Once Caufield left the game, however, Brantford took control.
Brett Lawson came in for relief and gave up five runs on four hits and a walk. Taking over for Lawson, who received the loss for the game, reliever Matt Tosoni walked in back-to-back runs with the bases loaded before he himself was replaced by Drew Taylor, who finished out the game for Toronto.
The Leafs kept the bats alive as Gillis drove in Castaldo on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, and rallied late with Arias singling in a run and Castaldo himself also hitting a sacrifice fly to bring the score within two. However the rally fell short for the Leafs.
“Brantford is a very experienced team, and you can’t make many mistakes,” Gillis said. “But the offence has to pick it up when the pitchers don’t have it, and vice versa.”
Gillis said there was some changeover in the pitching ranks after a few years of the same rotation, and that now the pitchers are just starting to gel. “They just need to get more innings.”
Caufield said while there is some adversity facing the bullpen, and “while there’s definitely some disappointment, we have the guys and we just need to bring it together.”
Brantford stays on top of the league now sporting a 13-3 record. Brantford previously won by scores of 5-0 and 21-7 against Toronto. The winning pitcher for Brantford was Brian Speck, who entered in the seventh inning to relieve St. Gelias. Stefan Strecker recorded the save.
Toronto falls to 6-11 with the loss but remains one spot ahead of Hamilton, who is in last place. The next game for Toronto is at home against the last place Hamilton Cardinals on Wednesday, June 20 at 7:30pm at Dominico Field.