Royals, Toronto going to quarter-final series limit

GUELPH – The Guelph Royals will get a second chance to record their first Intercounty Baseball League playoff series victory since 2012.

The Royals missed the opportunity to win the series at home Tuesday night when they were edged 6-5 in 10 innings by the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of the best-of-five quarter-final series.

Playing in front of the largest crowd to see an IBL game at Hastings Stadium in a few years, the Royals were a little sloppy and it came back to haunt them.

The hosts were fortunate to escape the first inning in a scoreless tie as starting pitcher Yunior Yambatis threw 30 pitches and Toronto had the bases loaded when Yambatis recorded the first of his 10 strikeouts on the night for the third out of the inning.

The Royals were retired on nine pitches from Toronto starter Justin Cicatello in the bottom of the inning.

Guelph’s woes showed in the top of the second when the Leafs scored four runs. After Mike Reeves and Aaron Hornostaj hit back-to-back singles to open the inning, Connor Lewis put a bunt down that was fielded by third baseman Angel Villalona. On the good side, he didn’t throw the ball away when he saw there was nobody covering first.

That loaded the bases for the Leafs and the game’s first run came in when Grant Tamane was walked. With one out, Justin Marra hit a single to right field that scored two more and Tamane scored the fourth run as Marcus Knecht grounded out.

The Royals got three runs back in the bottom of the inning when Villalona hit a one-out double to right field and Justin Interisano followed with a single to right. Brendan Keys followed with a single to right to score Villalona. Jeff MacLeod hit into a fielder’s choice – Keys was out at second – and Darius Barlas clobbered a triple to centre field to score the other two runs.

Both teams scored a run in the fourth and the Royals tied it with another run in the sixth when Ethan Mohan singled and went to second on an error by Toronto third baseman Zac Orchard that allowed Keys, who had earlier singled to right.

While the game was an exciting one, it certainly wasn’t crisply played. The Leafs committed three errors and while the Royals only committed one, there were some blunders as they had a couple of runners tagged out on failed hit-and-run plays and another one tagged out after walking off of second thinking he’d already been called out, but he hadn’t been. Another runner was thrown out in a not-so-close play at the plate.

Yambatis finally ran out of gas in the 10th inning. Reeves opened the inning with a double to centre and he scored as Hornostaj singled to centre. Yambatis was through when his 173rd pitch of the game walked Connor Lewis. David Hatt came in and retired three of the four batters he faced – Justin Marra was given first on an intentional walk.

Dustin Richardson, who had replaced Cicatello in the sixth, continued his mastery of the Royals in the bottom of the 10th, although he did allow a base runner when Keys was hit by a pitch on his helmet. He left the field with a little steadying help from teammates after receiving attention.

Richardson picked up the win as he held the Royals to a single hit in 4 1/3 innings. He had seven strikeouts. In three appearances in the series, he’s kept the Royals scoreless on three hits and no walks in 7 1/3 innings and he’s registered 14 strikeouts.

Cicatello had yielded five runs, four earned, off nine hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. He also had seven strikeouts.

Yambatis gave up six runs, all earned, off 11 hits and seven walks in nine innings of work. He had 10 strikeouts. Hatt walked one and struck out two in his inning on the mound.

At the plate, Villalona hit a double and single while Keys smacked two singles and Barlas had his triple. Adding one single each were Mohan, Sean Reilly, Josh Garton, Interisano and MacLeod.

Fifth and deciding game of the series is to go Wednesday at Toronto’s Dominico Field at Christie Pits. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Winner of the game advances to play the Kitchener Panthers in a best-of-seven semifinal series.

The Barrie Baycats and Hamilton Cardinals are to play in the other semifinal that is to start Thursday night at Barrie.


Maple Leafs 6 Royals 5
Toronto     040-100-000-1 – 6 11 3
Guelph     030-101-000-0 – 5 10 1
WP: Richardson, Toronto.
LP: Yambatis, Guelph.
WildP: Yambatis, Guelph.
HBP: Cicatello, Richardson, Toronto; Yambatis, Guelph.
P-S: Cicatello 108-66, Richardson 55-39, Toronto; Yambatis 173-100, Hatt 12-8, Guelph.
3B: Barlas, Guelph.
2B: J.Marra, Reeves, Toronto; Villalona, Guelph.
HBP: Knecht, Toronto; Barlas, Keys, Guelph.
SB: Knecht, Toronto.
CS: Barlas, Guelph.
Team LOB: Toronto 13; Guelph 9.
E: Orchard, Hornostaj, Cicatello, Toronto; Villalona, Guelph.
FCS: Reeves, Toronto.
SBA: Reeves, Toronto; Keys, Guelph.
DP: Toronto 1; Guelph 2.
  • Guelph Sports Journal