As Greg Carrington stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning of a close game against the Welland Jackfish, on-deck hitter Ryan Santos asked his Toronto Maple Leafs teammate if he could leave a couple of runners on base for him to drive in.
Carrington saved him the effort.
The outfielder stepped up and drilled Rich Corrente’s first offering over the right-field fence to clear the bases and help power the Leafs to a 10-3 win over the Jackfish, July 14, at Dominico Field.
“He told me before I went to bat don’t take two runs and instead I took all four,” said Carrington, sporting a huge grin. “He was like save some for me.”
More of a slap hitter, Carrington picked a good time to hit his first Intercounty Baseball League home run. The second-year player stepped in the box looking to extend Toronto’s 4-2 lead, but admits he wasn’t thinking grand slam.
“I just wanted to see a pitch up, hit it in the air and see if I could get a (sacrifice fly) and it just kept going out,” said the Toronto native, who had himself a day at the plate going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
Carrington’s grand effort was part of a 17-hit attack, a much welcome offensive outburst for the Leafs (10-17) who came in having lost five straight.
Even more impressive, it came with Toronto missing several of its regulars. Jonathan Solazzo, Grant Tamane, Zac Orchard, Dan Marra and the injured Garett Takamatsu were all out of the lineup, meaning pitcher Alberto Tirado had to fill in at designated hitter.
As it turns out, no problem on this day. Marcus Knecht and manger/player Damon Topolie also left the yard and had three hits each.
“It was a good team win today,” Topolie said. “We pitched well, we hit well. We didn’t get any breaks this weeks, so it was a good way to end the week.”
As for Tirado, he finished 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI and stolen base.
“Alberto is just out there having fun,” Carrington said of the Dominican Republic native. “He’s playing baseball in the purest way and it’s good the whole team came together, and everybody worked hard today at the plate.”
The Leafs also got a big effort on the mound. Starter Mateo Kekatos went four innings, giving up just two runs on three hits and a walk. He struck out three. Zach Sloan (1-6) picked things up in the fifth, tossing 2.2 innings and giving up one run on two hits and five walks. The lefty struck out one batter in picking up his first win of the season.
Jean Carlos Henriquez and Jackson Jones blanked Welland (14-11) over the final two-plus innings.
“We’re keeping our heads up and we’re not getting too negative,” Topolie said of his team’s recent struggles. “We’re staying positive. I think the bounce back today is going to help us maintain some momentum going into the playoffs.”
The Jackfish managed just six hits, with DeAndre Ashbury-Heath doing most of the damage with three hits, a home run and two RBIs. Corrente (2-1) was tagged for eight runs on 11 hits over six innings. He struck out three.
Toronto is back in action July 16 with a rescheduled road game against the Kitchener Panthers. Game time at Jack Couch Park is 7:30 p.m.