The London Majors have ended their championship drought, winning the club’s first Dominico Cup in 46 years and 13th in franchise history Friday night at home, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 8-4.
After dropping game four Thursday night in a 13-inning affair, the Majors rebounded 20 hours later with an all-around strong performance against the Leafs in front of a sold out crowd of 5,200 at Labatt Memorial Park in London.
“I can’t even put this into words, we got the greatest group of guys behind us right now, we battled so frickin’ hard all year,” said winning pitcher Owen Boon, to MajorsTV. “We put it on the line, Toronto gave us a huge run for our money … they were never out of this game.”
Despite falling just short of their ultimate goal, Toronto manager Damon Topolie was proud of his players and their success during this shortened schedule.
“We had a great season, just to be in this position is amazing, we grinded all season and did what we could to get here,” said Topolie “You have to tip your cap to the other team, they deserved the championship, they played well all season.” .
Toronto came out hot, scoring one run in the top of each of the first three innings on seven hits, with contributions from most of the lineup.
Johnathan Solazzo scored Jordan Castaldo on a sacrifice fly in the first, Castaldo singled home Connor Lewis in the second, and Solazzo singled home Sean Reilly for his second RBI of the game in the third.
“We didn’t get any lucky breaks, we didn’t break it open like we needed to to get a big inning, we just chipped away and got singles, they had the big innings, we made a couple unforced mistakes and that’s the ball game,” said Topolie.
The Maple Leafs committed three errors during the game, and were twice thrown out trying to score at home plate.
Meanwhile, London right-fielder Byron Reichstein continued to flex his power after hitting two home runs in Thursday’s game, crushing a three run shot in the bottom of the third to put the Majors ahead, and they did not look back.
Reichstein earned himself two intentional walks after the homer, and was named playoff MVP after the game, he hit .448 with four homers and six RBI in seven playoff games.
In a rematch of game two’s pitching matchup, Maple Leafs veteran Marek Deska got the start against Boon, the regular season IBL leader in wins.
The Majors got six innings from Boon, who threw 111 pitches, despite allowing 11 hits, he kept Toronto to three earned runs while striking out five.
“I’m so proud of the boys for pulling together and putting together a nine inning ballgame, and coming back to secure the victory at home, it’s unbelievable,” said the pitcher.
Deska went six innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits while striking out three.
“He (Deska) pitched great even to get us to that position. It was a tight game, you tip your cap to the other team when they hit a mistake … Byron Reichstein was the MVP for a reason, he had a big series,” said Topolie.
As for what’s next and who will be on the roster next season? Topolie and the Maple Leafs are not ready to have that conversation.
“It’s too early to talk about that right now, just trying to console some broken hearts,” said Topolie, after the game.
Despite the issues COVID-19 presented the IBL, Topolie and the Maple Leafs praised their fans and their dedication to the team.
“They were amazing all year, it was a different season, it was really condensed, and they supported us all season long, they are the best fans in the league.”