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NEWS: Leafs fall in the Finals (Oct. 2022)

October 19th, 2022 · No Comments

Game Six defeat stuns fans at Christie Pits

The London Majors pour onto the field to celebrate winning their second consecutive championship. R.S. KONJEK/GLEANER NEWS

By R.S. Konjek

Business remains unfinished.

For the second year in a row, the Toronto Maple Leafs made it to the Intercounty Baseball League’s championship series but failed to take home the Dominico Cup.

Baseball is a cruel sport. All sports can be, of course. With baseball, it might be the slow meander of the season or the pace of the game itself. It weaves itself into the fibre of your being. 

When the season ends, it happens with sudden, jarring finality. There is no clock to count down with; there is only the end. 

After a splendid summer of baseball action at Christie Pits, the Leafs breezed through the opening rounds of the postseason, dispatching the Barrie Baycats and Welland Jackfish with ease.

Then they ran into a wall. Their opponents in the finals were the league’s top-ranked team and defending champions, the London Majors.

The best-of-seven series was a tremendous battle. Each game alternated between opposing ballparks, with London hosting first.

Each of the first five games of the series were won by the home team.

Game six took place at Christie Pits on September 22. The Leafs looked to continue the pattern of winning at home and then going all-out to win the deciding seventh game in London.

They never got that far, but it looked as if they would.

Home runs by Marcus Knecht and Justin Marra gave Toronto an early lead. Starting pitcher Angel Castro put in a dominating performance. After eight innings, the Leafs led 7-3.

Castro returned to the mound to start the ninth, looking for a complete game win.

The Majors rallied with two singles, a walk, and a two-run homer. That made it 7-5, and Castro left the game without recording an out in the inning.

Leafs closer Franklin Hernandez—another of the club’s postseason stars—came in to finish the game.

A walk, a single, three wild pitches and a sacrifice fly drove three runs across the plate and the Majors took a stunning 8-7 lead.

The Pits were stunned. The Leafs looked stunned too. In the bottom of the ninth, they mustered no more than a leadoff walk. After that, a double-play and a strikeout ended the game. Cruel sport.

The Majors’ players and coaches poured onto the infield to celebrate their second straight title as the Christie faithful looked on. Game over, series over. That sudden, jarring finality.

So ends the 2022 season, one that began under the shadow of long-time owner Jack Dominico’s passing and ended with the championship cup that bears his name slipping out of the Leafs’ grasp. Unfinished business, the season’s theme, went unfulfilled.

“Losing was a tough pill,” said Damon Topolie, the club’s vice president of baseball operations, general manager, and its longest-serving active player. “The fact that we battled right to the end, that was what I loved the most about this team. The amount of adversity this team had to overcome was incredible.”

Topolie added, that while it is still early, he expects many players from this year’s roster to return next summer.

For fans, nothing beats watching the Leafs live at Christie Pits; however, the club made huge improvements to its online presence in 2022.

Ryan Eakin, the club’s director of communications and game day operations, led the effort to modernize how Maple Leafs baseball is presented to the public.

“I was most pleased with the advancements this franchise made in a lot of different areas,” said Eakin. “The [online] broadcast was better, and more people were tuning into it. Our social media accounts grew in popularity at a rate that the team was happy with, [and] we provided different types of content that no other team in the IBL was producing.”

Eakin himself was one-half of the Leafs’ broadcast team, calling home games on YouTube with partner Thomas West. Their rapport was well-received by viewers. 

“Nothing was perfect and there is a lot of improvement needed, but we set a foundation for what we need to do moving forward,” he added. “A year ago, there was no foundation on the communications or game day side of things.”

A year ago, things were very different in the Maple Leafs organization. Topolie, Eakin and the rest of the club’s operations team shepherded the club into a new era, one that will continue for the foreseeable future.

Before the final out of the final game this year, an announcement came out over the public address system: the Leafs’ next home opener will be Sunday, May 7, 2023, at Christie Pits.

More information about Maple Leafs baseball can be found at:


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