A last inning rally for the Toronto Maple Leafs fell just short as they dropped a 6-5 decision to the London Majors in Intercounty Baseball League action, June 9, at Christie Pits.
Down 6-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Leafs (5-8) caught a break to start the inning when London (4-9) shortstop Phillip Thrappas booted a groundball off the bat of Ryan Santos. Santos moved to second on a wild pitch by reliever Ismael Pena and then came around to score on a single up the middle by Daniel Szpik to cut the lead to one.
With two outs and Greg Carrington at second, the Leafs got the hitter they wanted up in the situation with Justin Marra at the plate. Pena would strike out last year’s IBL player of the year, though, to nail down the win and his first save of the season.
“We just didn’t get any lucky breaks today,” Toronto manager Damon Topolie said. “Both teams played a well played game today. Both teams were playing three games in three days, so we were just trying to grind it out.
“We had some good pitching today, played some good defence and we just didn’t get those lucky breaks at bat. Ten out of 10 times I’ll take Justin Marra at bat with two outs and the runner on second.”
Owen Boon (1-0) went 7.2 strong innings to earn the win on the mound for the Majors. The righthander gave up four runs on six hits and four walks, while striking out four. Pena tossed the final 1.1 innings, giving up an unearned run on one hit.
Rookie Diego Dominguez (0-2) was the tough luck loser for the Leafs, giving up five runs, four earned, on six hits and four walks over seven innings. He struck out five.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” said Toronto thirdbaseman Cooper Lamb, who belted his third homer of the season and finished with two hits and two RBIs. “We struggled a little bit and then started to bring it around. It’s tough to lose a close one right now.”
Byron Reichstein, with his fourth, and Pena, with his fifth, hit homers for London.
Grant Tamane and Szpik drove in a run each for the Leafs, who trailed the rest of the way after London scored twice in the top of the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead.
“That’s important,” Lamb said of the Leafs giving themselves a chance at the end. “That stuff will build character and it’s a league where you just want to have that in you by the time playoffs come around.”
Toronto hits the road June 14 to take on the Barrie Baycats. Game time is 7:30 p.m.