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Leafs sweep their Royal weekend with win over Guelph

June 24th, 2012 · No Comments


By Michael Radoslav

It is officially a winning streak. The Toronto Maple Leafs swept their home-and-home series with the Guelph Royals this weekend with a 5–3 win at Dominico Field on Sunday. Toronto also won 5–2 on Saturday in Guelph.

“Everything is gelling right now,” said Leaf manager Tim Harkness. “We’ve played a lot of games by now, and that’s what it takes sometimes.”

Caufield had another solid outing as Toronto’s starting pitcher. In seven-plus innings for the Leafs, he surrendered one earned run on seven hits, while walking one batter and striking out nine. “Our starting pitching, right now I think it’s as good as anything in the league,” said Harkness. Toronto received a complete game effort from Marek Deska in the win at Guelph on Saturday.

Guelph opened the scoring in the fourth inning amid a string of fielding woes by Toronto, as two errors and a couple of wild pitches from Caufield allowed the Royals to load the bases. Guelph however only managed one run, stranding three runners on base.

Missed opportunities became a theme for the Royals on the afternoon as they stranded 10 baserunners—twice failing to capitalize with the bases loaded.

Toronto responded in the fourth inning as Glen Jackson, who went three-for-four on the afternoon with two stolen bases and an RBI, scored on a Jordan Costaldo sacrifice fly. Damon Topolie, who batted two-for-four with two RBIs of his own, grounded out to first but was able to bring in Branfy Arias to put Toronto in a lead they would never relinquish.

Jackson drove in Rob Gillis the next inning to give the Leafs a 3–1 lead. Guelph’s lead-off batter Frankie Hare responded in the sixth inning, bringing home the Royals Nathan Grant on a RBI double to make it a 3–2 game.

In the bottom half of the sixth Topolie added an RBI double of his own, which brought home Dan Marra and restored a two-run lead for Toronto. Will Richards singled in Marra again in the eighth to make the score 5–2 for the Leafs.

The Leafs bullpen has had its share of problems this season however Adam Garner gave a solid performance over the final two innings, allowing just one hit—a solo home run blast by Guelph’s DH Sean Reilly in the ninth inning—and one walk against the seven Guelph batters he faced.

“I’m very apprehensive any time I have to go to the bullpen right now,” Harkness said, “but Adam Garner did a very good job today.”

For the Royals, pitcher David Hatt, who had previously beaten Toronto during Guelph’s last visit to Dominico Field, went into the eighth inning before being replaced by Marc Anthony Clauser. Hatt surrendered five runs on nine hits, with three walks and two strikeouts.

“This pitcher is really good, he locates really well,“ said Topolie. “He beat us the last time so we knew we had to grind it out to get the runs when we got the chance.”

The Leafs are now riding a three game winning streak with victories over Hamilton last Wednesday, and Guelph twice this weekend. Toronto’s record now improves to 9-11, while Guelph, the team Toronto is currently chasing in fifth place, falls to 10-12 on the season.

Topolie said the clubhouse has started to feel more positive as of late with the team stringing together some wins.  “We had a rough start in May, and there was some negativity but we turned it around and made it positive,” he said. “It’s this time of year we’ve got to get it going because there’s a month left before the playoff run.”

“Hopefully we’ll continue with this pace,” said Harkness.

The Leafs host the Kitchener Panthers next on June 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Dominico Field.

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