The Toronto Maple Leafs dropped game one of the best-of-five Intercounty Baseball League championship series on Friday night, losing 4-3 to the London Majors.
Majors starter Pedro De Los Santos pitched a complete game, allowing just two earned runs and striking out 12.
De Los Santos, who was the regular season leader in ERA, mixed things up against the Leafs’ lineup as Toronto manager Damon Topolie noted after the game.
“He just kept us off balance and you got to tip your cap to him when you run into a hot pitcher like that, he didn’t give in.” said Topolie. “He pitched really well, and he deserved the win, he deserved everything he got tonight, it was a great ball game all around.”
Right fielder Byron Reichstein registered two hits for London, while designated hitter Cleveland Brownlee drove in two runs.
Leafs centre fielder Connor Lewis continued his productive postseason, going three-for-four including a solo homerun to left field in the seventh inning.
Majors opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning courtesy a Reichstein double which scored leadoff hitter Chris McQueen. Brownlee followed that up right after with a single into right field to score Reichstein.
Jordan Castaldo got things going for the Maple Leafs’ offence in the top of the fifth, lacing a double into left field, scoring Chandler Maclaren. The run was set up by a De Los Santos error on a bunt attempt from Lewis.
Coming into game one, Lewis was hitting .467 from the plate in the postseason, providing consistency throughout the Toronto lineup.
“That’s good team baseball when you can get some production out of the bottom of the order, and (Lewis) made a heck of a catch in centre field as well,” said Topolie. “He knows what to do when he gets his opportunities.”
Leafs starter Justin Cicatello picked up the loss in a solid outing, allowing four runs in six innings of work. Mateos Kekatos and Dustin Richardson both pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two batters each.
“I thought we had great pitching tonight,” said Topolie. “Cicatello got into a little trouble in the first, but he settled down as the game went on, and that’s what a veteran pitcher does, he doesn’t get rattled. Then Mateos did a great job giving us that clean inning.
“I have Dustin Richardson in the back end for a reason, he’s the guy I want on the mound in that situation.”
The Maple Leaf hitters are set to face starter Owen Boon in Sunday’s match up at Christie Pits. He’s coming off a stellar performance against the Brantford Red Sox in London’s semi-final series.
“Well, he’s the right-handed version of a Pedro,” said Topolie. “He’s a crafty pitcher and he’s going to keep you off balance, so we just have to maintain our approach and make sure we don’t miss the pitches we get to hit.”