Zach Sloan and Marek Deska pitched their way into the Intercounty Baseball League record books and the Toronto Maple Leafs into the semi-finals.
The Toronto hurlers combined to throw a no-hitter, the first in IBL post-season history, in a fifth and deciding game 6-2 win over the Guelph Royals, Wednesday night, at Christie Pits.
It was the second-straight win for the Leafs, who rallied to take the best-of-five quarter-final series, 3-2. The Leafs will now face the Kitchener Panthers in a best-of-seven semi-final series. The schedule has yet to be announced.
The effort by Sloan and Deska marks the first nine inning IBL no-hitter since Jesse Orosco in 1977. The most recent no-hitter was a seven-inning gem tossed back in 2003 by Derek McDaid of the Barrie Baycats as part of a doubleheader.
Facing a do-or-die contest against the Royals, Sloan (1-1) rose to the occasion on the mound. The Toronto starter gave up just two unearned runs on five walks over six innings, while striking out seven.
Other than an error and a hit batter in the eighth, Deska kept the slate clean over three hitless innings. He struck out three enroute to earning his first save.
Yomar Concepcion (1-1) took the loss for the Royals, giving up four runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings. He struck out three.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the sixth inning, the Royals used some good fortune and Leafs miscues to tie the game. After getting on with a fielder’s choice, Ethan Mohan stole second before coming around to score on an error. Sean Reilly, who drew an intentional walk by Sloan and moved to third on a pair of wild pitches, would come around to score on another error when Sloan’s pickoff attempt of Justin Interisano at second sailed into centre.
The Leafs wouldn’t take long to get the lead back. Garret Takamatsu led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to left field off of Concepcion that would prove to be the winning run. Takamatsu, who finished the night 2-for-4, added a double and finished with two runs driven in and two runs scored.
The Leafs added a run in the seventh and then added a pair in the eighth inning on a bloop two-run single by Zac Orchard off reliever Edwin Javier with the bases loaded. Mikes Reeves and Marcus Knecht, who also had a pair of stolen bases, drove in the other Toronto runs.
The Leafs will now face Kitchener, who swept the Brantford Red Sox in three straight in their opening-round series. The Panthers finished second in the regular season standings with a record of 24-12. Toronto was fourth with 16-19 record.
The Barrie Baycats face the Hamilton Cardinals in the other IBL semi-final series.
PHOTO: Toronto Maple Leafs starter Zach Sloan (above) and reliever Marek Deska combined to throw a no-hitter to lead the club to a 6-2 win over the Guelph Royals in the fifth and deciding game of their IBL quarter-final series. It was the first post-season no-hitter in lBL history. ERIN RILEY PHOTO