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Pitching, Defence Struggle as Panthers Pound Maple Leafs

June 29th, 2012 · No Comments


By Jonah Birenbaum

Porous defence and some ineffective relief pitching compounded a rough outing from starter Adam Garner as the Toronto Maple Leafs fell to the Kitchener Panthers 11-4 at Dominico Field on Wednesday night.

The potent Kitchener offense pounded 17 hits off Toronto’s staff — including a three-run, five-hit second inning — while Toronto’s defense committed three errors in defeat, snapping their winning streak at three games.

“You just got to forget about that one,” Maple Leafs third baseman Jordan Castaldo said.  “There’s not much you can do about it.  Kitchener hit the ball well, you know, you got to give them credit where credit’s due.”

Despite a solid opening frame from Garner — the righty retired the side in order to start off the game — things went south rather quickly.  Kitchener sent eight men to the plate in a three-run second that saw four consecutive Panthers register base hits, a stretch punctuated by a mammoth two-run homerun from right fielder Brian Burton.

But Toronto responded almost immediately when Castaldo emphatically erased the early 3-0 deficit with a three-run blast to centrefield off Kitchener starter Kyle McKay the following inning.

“[I] was just looking for something to hit — something to hit hard,” said Castaldo.  “Kinda been struggling recently so I just made some adjustments, just try to get something I could handle, and 3-1 he grooved it in there and I just put a good swing on it.”

The deadlock was a brief one, though, as Kitchener tacked on another pair in the top of the fourth on a two-run single from left fielder Luke Baker, giving them the lead for good and ultimately chasing Garner from the game.  Toronto’s starter lasted just four innings, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out four as he took his sixth loss of the season.

Toronto would muster one more run in the contest on an RBI double from catcher Damon Topolie in the fourth before the Kitchener offense took control of the game for good, much to the chagrin of the Toronto relief corps.  The Panthers proceeded to pound out another six runs on seven hits off relievers Drew Taylor and rookie Luke Melnyk, due in part to some shaky defense from the Maple Leafs.

“Some timely errors didn’t help, especially on my behalf,” said Castaldo, who committed a throwing error in Kitchener’s two-run fourth inning.

Trailing by seven with two outs in the eighth, Toronto summoned righthander Brett Lawson to stop the bleeding.  He promptly retired the first hitter he faced and proceeded to pitch a scoreless ninth, making him the lone Toronto hurler not to surrender a run on Wednesday.

By day’s end, six of Kitchener’s nine starters had multiple hits, including a triumvirate of three-hit performances from Mitch Delaney, Darnell Duckett, and Mike Andrulis.

McKay worked five innings for Kitchener, surrendering four runs on three hits and five walks while striking out five to pick up his second win of the season and halt his team’s losing streak at three games.

“It feels great,” McKay said of the win.  “Feels good to be around all the veterans [and] learn stuff every day that I didn’t know.  [I’m] glad to contribute all the time.

Tags: Annex · Sports · Maple Leafs Baseball · General