Damon Topolie handed Diego Dominguez a tough assignment, but the Toronto Maple Leafs manager knows the experience his young pitcher gains now will pay off down the road.

Facing the five-time defending IBL champion Barrie Baycats, Dominguez got dinged for four runs in the first inning but managed to hold his own in a 15-5 loss, June 2, at Christie Pits.

IBL Player of the Week Jordan Castaldo drilled a two-run homer off the young hurler and an RBI double by Steve Lewis and Ryan Rijo groundout put the Baycats (7-1) in charge early, but it was all the damage Dominguez (0-1) would give up in three solid innings of work.

The 19-year-old native of Vaughan settled down after that, giving up five hits and two walks, while striking out one in his first career IBL start.

“That’s exactly why he’s here. He’s a young guy that’s going to learn how to pitch and he’s going to help the ball club,” Topolie said of his righthander. “We have to put him in those situations and he has to learn from being out there. He’s going to learn to pitch.”

The Baycats, led by a two home-run and seven RBI performance from Kevin Atkinson,  built a commanding 10-1 lead on Toronto (4-6), before Justin Marra’s grand slam in the bottom of the seventh off starting pitcher Santos Arios cut the lead in half.

But Barrie came right back with two runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth to put this one away.

“They’re the best team in the league for a reason and you can’t play catch up with them,” Topolie said. “I knew we had double digits in hits (13) and I know we had an offensive day, but we just didn’t play very good defence and a couple of errors killed us.

“It is what it is. They’re a real good team and they’re the defending champions for a reason.”

Barrie belted out 15 hits against five Toronto pitchers, with Atkinson finishing 5-for-5 at the plate with five runs scored to go along with his second and third homers of the year. Ryan Rijo would drive in four runs

Arias (2-0) would go 6.1 innings, giving up five runs on 10 hits and one walk, while striking out five. Matthew St. Kitts gave up just three hits over the final 2.2 innings in relief.

Along with his grand slam, Marra finished another strong day at the plate 2-for-5 with a run scored. Teammate Greg Carrington went 3-for-4 with a run scored.

“We didn’t get those timely hits and they did, and that’s why they’re the winning team on the scoreboard today,” Topolie said. “We just turned the clock to June. We’re starting to get guys back and I think we’re ready to go for a run now.”

The Leafs return to action June 7 when they hit the road to take on the Hamilton Cardinals. Game time at Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium is 7:30 p.m.


photo: Justin Marra belted a grand slam, but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto Maple Leafs dropped a 15-5 decision to the Barrie Baycats in Intercounty Baseball League action, June 2, at Christie Pits. Erin Riley photo

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