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Maple Leafs fall in extras, after wacky comeback

July 12th, 2012 · 1 Comment

GUELPH ROYALS 11, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 8

By Jonah Birenbaum

Signified by an animated fist-pump as he rounded first base and began his trot around the bases, Mark Allen knew he had redeemed himself.

After committing a costly error that opened the door for an improbable four-run, ninth-inning comeback by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Guelph first baseman atoned for his defensive miscue with a towering, three-run homerun in the tenth to lift his team to an 11–8 victory over the Leafs at Dominico Field on Wednesday night.

A resilient Maple Leafs offense managed to erase two separate deficits—4–2 and 8–4, respectively—but ineffective pitching proved Toronto’s undoing once again. The loss, disheartening as they come, snapped Toronto’s winning streak at three games, but centre fielder Glenn Jackson insisted that there were some positives in defeat.

“Being down 8–4 in the ninth, to me it shows character,” said Jackson, who went 2-for-6 with a pair of runs. “That’s just the way it goes.”

Guelph staked out an early lead after tagging Toronto starter Brett Lawson for four runs over the first four innings by way of a Tyler Wheeler sacrifice fly and a pair of homeruns from Frankie Hare and Kevin Treichel, respectively.

But Toronto, trailing 4–2, responded with a two-out rally in the fifth that plated a pair of runs. After Jackson singled, shortstop Branfy Arias promptly brought him home with a double, his second of the day. Third baseman Jordan Castaldo subsequently ripped a hard grounder between first and second to plate Arias and tie the game at 4–4.

The deadlock was short-lived, though, as the Royals tagged Lawson for two more runs in the sixth, and then repeated the exercise in the seventh to extend the lead to 8-4.

Lawson was pulled after 6.1 innings, having surrendered eight earned runs on 10 hits and a walk. The towering right-hander remains winless on the season with an ERA of 10.39.

The score would remain the same until the ninth, which began with a solid single from Will Richards. But after Allen mishandled a seemingly innocuous grounder from Justin Gianfrancesco on the subsequent play, things came apart for the Royals. Third baseman Anthony Quintana couldn’t come up with a grounder down the line from Jackson, scoring Richards and putting runners on the corners.

After a walk to Arias, shortstop Nathan Grant botched what should’ve been a tailor-made double play off the bat of Castaldo, allowing two more runs to score and reducing the deficit to one. Aaron Guinn, who homered in the first, proceeded to tie the game with a sacrifice fly before Guelph reliever Bryan Boudreau was able to quell the threat.

Guelph starter Andrew Vant Wout was charged with four unearned runs as a result of his team’s four-error ninth. The southpaw surrendered eight runs—four earned—on nine hits and four walks over eight-plus innings of work.

But the Royals refused to succumb to the abrupt momentum shift. After Hare—who raised his average to a whopping .445 with a 4-for-6 night—got things started in the tenth with a one-out single, and then advanced to second on a groundout, Toronto manager Tim Harkness elected to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Sean Reilly, bringing Allen to the plate.

Allen, who was mercilessly berated for his ninth-inning gaffe by the vociferous Maple Leafs fans, promptly deposited an elevated Luke Melymick offering well beyond the fence in right field to give his team an 11-8 lead, and effectively seal Toronto’s fate.

With the loss, the Maple Leafs drop to fifth in the Intercounty Baseball League standings with a record of 14-14, but Jackson isn’t too concerned about his team’s position.

“I truly believe we’re still in a good spot,” he said. “I just try to see the positives. I feel a lot better about where we are now than when we were 3–8 or 3–10.”

Tags: General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Abraham // Jul 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    After reading the write up I am sorry I missed the game.