Overconfident Royals upset manager in loss to Leafs
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – Get over yourselves already.
The way the Guelph Royals warmed up for Saturday’s Intercounty Baseball League game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Hastings Stadium, it was as if they expected IBL commissioner John Kastner to show up and hand them the Jack and Lynne Dominico Trophy as league champions. No point in continuing this season, the Royals had to reign supreme as they’d beaten the four-time defending champion Barrie Baycats midweek, the first time the Baycats had lost at their own Coates Stadium in a couple of years.
Yes, the league title was theirs. Never mind that they entered the game with a 3-2 record with losses to the same Maple Leafs and to the London Majors at Hastings Stadium a week earlier. Nope, their fates could be seen by their wins over the Brantford Red Sox, Hamilton Cardinals and Barrie.
The hosts’ attitude in the warm-up got under the skin of their field manager, Dave teBoekhorst, and he let him know it.
“We came to the ball park with a real lackadaisical attitude,” he said. “I didn’t like it and they got blasted before the game, but it showed. Their preparation showed today. Pitching, hitting, coaching, everything – we got completely outdone today.”
The Royals fell behind early, rebounded to get it close in the eighth and then saw it slip away for good in the ninth as the Leafs claimed an 11-8 win.
“I was told the preparation leading up to the game wasn’t up to snuff, if you want to say that – up to par,” Guelph centre fielder Josh Garton said. He missed most of the warm-up as he was participating in a charity slo-pitch tournament, something that was prearranged with the team. “Just because we beat Barrie, it means nothing in these early games of the season. We’ve still got to come out and do all of our work. We’re still really rusty as you can tell today. We still have tons of rust on our bats and fielding and everything.”
The loss, though, should bring the Royals back to reality.
“It might be the punch in the gut you need,” teBoekhorst said. “You beat Barrie and Barrie’s won a ton of championships in a row and it’s nice to get a win on the road there, but it’s May when we beat them and it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t think you should be coming in on a high horse and be lazy in your preparation just because you won one game. We’re back to .500 now. You just want to keep getting better.
“We’re not in a position both as an organization and as athletes to be complacent after Game 5. This team wasn’t around last year and it was the bottom of the barrel for multiple years. You should have a chip on your shoulder every single day. Being a Guelph guy, I take a lot of pride in having a good team in this town and that won’t be tolerated. The guys that are starting should be playing hard to keep their spots and the guys that are behind should be trying to push for a starting spot. That’s the way it goes – the way sports goes, the way work goes, the way everything goes. We’ll get better and hopefully come out with a better effort tomorrow.”
The two teams combined for 13 runs in the final two innings of the contest. Exciting? Sort of. A classic? No way.
“Bottom line, they outplayed us in all facets,” teBoekhorst said. “They outpitched us, outhit us, outcoached us – solidly beat us in every facet of the game today. We’ve got them again tomorrow, which is nice.”
Guelph pitchers struggled to find the strike zone. Starter Yunior Yambatis walked four and gave up eight hits in six innings. He was followed in relief by David Hatt (two walks in a scoreless inning), Edwin Javier (two walks and three hits in an inning), Ben Reid (two walks and two hits without getting an out) and Daniel Marquez (one hit in one innings). Yambatis, who also had five strikeouts, took the loss.
Starter Marek Deska picked up the win for the Leafs. He walked one and yielded two runs off six hits in seven innings. Jackson Jones walked all four batters he faced in the eighth and three of them scored. Andrew Simonetti pitched the final two innings without a walk, but he gave up four hits including back-to-back homers by Garton and Sean Reilly in the ninth.
The Royals committed four errors in the game, three more than Toronto, and all were harshly awarded to catcher Brandon Keys although he wasn’t even in the game for the final two. And Garton got away with one in the outfield as he chased a ball a long way only to have it bounce off his glove and to the ground.
“I haven’t tracked a fly ball in a little while,” he said. “Most of my time has been spent at second base so far, but there’s no excuse. I was lackadaisical out there as well. After that I turned it around and made the plays that needed to be made.”
The heart of Guelph part of the Royals’ batting order – Guelphites Garton, Reilly and Justin Interisano hitting second, third and fourth respectively –accounted for six hits, seven runs, four RBIs and four walks with no strikeouts. Each had two hits with a homer and single for both Garton and Reilly and a double and single for Interisano.
Narciso Padilla connected for two singles for the hosts while Jeff MacLeod had a double and Matt Pilarczyk had a single.
Toronto batters collected 14 hits with Greg Carrington hitting a double and two singles, Justin Marra hitting a homer and a single, Mike Reeves getting a double and a single and Johnathan Solazzo, Adam Odd and Connor Lewis each hitting two singles.
The win lifts the Leafs to 6-3. The teams don’t have long to think about the game as they’re to meet again Sunday afternoon at Toronto’s Dominico Field at Christie Pits. After Saturday’s game, teBoekhorst is glad for the quick turnaround.
“I wouldn’t want to be in football and have to wait another week of practice,” he said. “The nice thing about baseball is you get to play the next day. We’ll go in, have a good night’s sleep and get after it again tomorrow.”