Dan Marra wasn’t sure if he was going to be in the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup June 23rd, but you can bet his teammates were happy he was.
Marra, playing in his first home game since minor knee surgery in late April, drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning to help the Leafs beat the Guelph Royals, 8-6, in Intercounty Baseball League action at Christie Pits.
Marra, who suffered a torn meniscus and got into his first action two nights earlier in a 2-1 win in Brantford, came up big for the Leafs (7-10) with the game tied, 5-5.
Ryan Santos led off the inning with a single off Guelph reliever Brett Lawson and then moved to second on wild pitch. Marra, who would finish the contest 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs as a designated hitter, followed by slapping a single to right field to plate Santos with the go-ahead run.
Adam Marra would come in to pinch-run for his brother and would come across with what proved to be the decisive score on a single by Grant Tamane. The Leafs would score three in the inning to grab an 8-5 lead and then hang on for their second-straight win.
“To be honest I didn’t even know if I was going to play today, so it was fun just to get in there,” said Dan Marra, who has been working his way back into the lineup the last six weeks. “It’s the first few at bats I’ve had since last summer, so I was just trying to see the ball deep, hit the other way and actually just try to get the runner over in that situation.
“It happen to hit the barrel and squeak through, so it’s a lot of fun to be part of that.”
It was also a big day at the plate for Santos. The outfielder finished 4-for-4 with two runs scored, along with his league-leading 11th and 12th swipes of the season.
“I use my speed to the best advantage for the team and the more I get on, the more I can swipe bags,” said the rookie, who legged out a pair of infield singles. “If I can apply pressure on the pitcher, it’s going to cause more fastballs to the plate. Which gives our hitters an easier time as well.”
Andrew Simonetti (1-0), also returning from injury, picked up the win in his season debut. The reliever gave up just a walk and had one strikeout in a scoreless eighth inning. Zach Sloan gave up a run in the ninth, but worked his way out of a jam to record his first save of the season.
Guelph (7-11) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-run homer by Sean Reilly. Josh Garton also went deep in the ninth to cut the lead to two, but Sloan would slam the door.
“I thought we were in control of the game the whole time and I looked up and I actually couldn’t believe we were tied,” Marra said after the Royals scored twice in the sixth off Toronto reliever Diego Dominguez. “I thought we were playing a good game and we happened to squeak it out in the end, so it worked out.”
Royals starter Yunior Yambatis went seven innings, giving up five runs, one earned, on 10 hits and three walks. He struck out three. Lawson (3-2) was handed the loss after going one inning and giving up three runs on four hits.
Toronto starter Alberto Tirado went five innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out four. Tamane would finish 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI, while Zac Orchard also had pair of hits and a run driven in.
The Leafs will look to make it three-straight wins when they host the Barrie Baycats June 26th. Game time is 7:30 p.m.