The Toronto Maple Leafs could hardly buy a clutch hit in July, but they got three big ones to kick off the IBL playoffs against the Guelph Royals on Aug. 9th at Christie Pits.
Justin Marra, Garret Takamatsu and Zac Orchard each drilled two-run homers to power the Leafs to a 9-6 win over the Royals in the opening game of their best-of-five quarter-final series.
When Toronto needed a big hit, they got one.
Marra’s two-run blast in the bottom of the first inning put the Leafs on top 2-1. Then with Royals back on top, 5-4, heading to the bottom of the sixth, Takamatsu’s round-tripper brought home Orchard to put the Leafs on top for good.
Orchard then sealed the deal with a two-run shot, part of a three-run seventh inning that gave Toronto some much-needed breathing room.
“We’ve got a solid lineup, one through nine, so I have confidence in everybody in that batting order that they can clutch up,” Leafs manager Damon Topolie said after the game. “And that’s what happened tonight.”
Justin Cicatello went six solid innings to pick up the win on the mound for Toronto, giving up five runs, two earned, on five hits and three walks. He struck out three. Dustin Richardson retired the side in the ninth, striking out a pair, to pick up the save.
Guelph’s Yunior Yambatis took the loss, giving up nine runs, seven earned, on nine hits and five walks over 6.2 innings. He struck out seven.
Ethan Mohan had a big day at the plate for the Royals, blasting two home runs with three RBI and two runs scored.
Orchard, who was 3-for-3 on the night with a homer, pair of RBIs and three runs scored, has gone 12-for-24 in his last six games. The second-year Leafs has two homers, six RBIs and 11 runs scored during his hot stretch.
“We grinded it out all night and that’s a good team win,” Topolie said. “Both teams played well and that’s what we expected in this series. It’s (fourth place) versus (fifth place), it’s going to be tough. It’s not going to be easy.”
Game 2 of the series goes Aug. 11th in Guelph.
PHOTO: Justin Cicatello went six solid innings, giving up just two earned runs, to help lead the host Toronto Maple Leafs to a 9-6 win over the Guelph Royals in their IBL best-of-five quarter-final series opener, May 9th, at Christie Pits. ERIN RILEY PHOTO