The Hamilton Thunderbirds were looking to cruise past the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning. But their cruise turned into a sinking as the Toronto Maple Leafs torpedoed the visiting T-Birds with five runs in final three innings for a 5-4 senior Intercounty Baseball League win.
The now 3-16 Thunderbirds got on the board first in the top of the fifth, sending nine batters to the plate. Catcher Matt Fortuna opened the inning with a walk and scored on Jordan Windisch’s one out, two-run homerun. Colin Zwiebel singled, took second when Jon Saporsantos was hit by a pitch and reached home when Matt McGraw slapped a two-out single to give the Thunderbirds a 3-0 lead.
Toronto looked to cut into Hamilton’s lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Rob Gillis and Kyle Morton each connected for one-out singles. Damon Topolie singled to right field and Gillis scampered to home plate only to be thrown out by right fielder McGraw.
McGraw then went on the offensive in the seventh inning when his base hit – his third of the game – plated Saporsantos from second base.
The Maple Leafs started their rally in the bottom of the inning. Raul Borjas reached base with a single and advanced to second on Jeremy Walker’s single. Kern Watts got a free pass to load the bases for Kyle DeGrace’s sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Borjas. Danny Gibbons was safe on a throwing error by third baseman Tim Hebner, allowing Walker to score and Jordan Castaldo would cap off the inning with a bases-loaded walk.
Toronto tied the game at four in the eighth when Jarrod Ivan, pinch running for Jeremy Walker, scored from third base on an errant throw by Justin Volpato who was trying to pick the runner off. The Maple Leafs won it in the bottom of the ninth with a solo homerun, with two out, off the bat of Castaldo.
Ryan Mashinter took the win for Toronto going two and two-thirds innings of relief for starter Matt Walker. Mashinter allowed two hits and struck out three Thunderbirds. Walker, in his six and a third innings of work allowed four runs, all earned, on six hits, walked three and struck out five. Mike Gottschalk took the loss pitching in the ninth inning only allowing the homerun. Matt Martinow started the game going six innings, allowing one run on seven hits, walking two and striking out three. Mike Fortuna, Nino Fasulo and Volpato pitched in the seventh and eighth innings. Each pitcher allowed a run with Fortuna’s being the only earned run out of the three.
Hamilton is home – Bernie Arbour Stadium – on Friday when the Ottawa Fat cats (5-16) visit for a 7:30 game.