Leafs Deska handcuffs Thunderbirds for fifth victory

Toronto’s four-run seventh inning combined with an eight-strikeout performance by starter Marek Deska lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 10-4 senior Intercounty Baseball League win over the Hamilton Thunderbirds on Friday (June 24).

The loss puts the Thunderbirds a half game behind the seventh place Burlington Twins who were idle on Friday night.

The visiting Leafs pounded out 18 hits, double Hamilton’s plate production at Bernie Arbour Stadium. The Leafs scored twice in the second inning and twice in the third before the T-Birds got on the scoreboard with a pair in the fourth inning. The score remained 4-2 until the Leafs pushed four runs across the plate in the seventh, although Hamilton would get one back in the bottom half of the frame.

Toronto opened the scoring in the top of the second. Dan Gibbons led off with a double and advanced to third on Damon Topolie’s single. Jordan Castaldo followed with a fly ball down the third baseline only to have Thunderbirds’ Zach Elbirt make an amazing catch. However, Gibbons was able to score on the fly ball. Topolie scored on Raul Borjas’ two-out RBI single.

The Maple Leafs doubled their lead in the third as Dan Marra singled and scored on Gibbons’ double. Gibbons came home just before John Watterburry was thrown out at third on Topolie’s single to right field.

Hamilton cut into the lead in the fourth. Graeme Carey, who is headed to the All-Star game in Sherbrooke, Quebec this weekend, reached base on a fielder’s choice. Carey would score three pitches later on Adam Durfee’s team-leading fourth homerun of the season to make it a 4-2 game. Durfee would finish the night with a two-for-four plate showing.

In the seventh, Toronto’s Marra, Kyle DeGrace, Gibbons and Watterburry put together consecutive singles to lead off the inning. Marra scored on Gibbons’ single while DeGrace and Gibbons crossed home plate on Watterburry’s hit. Castaldo capped off the inning with a double up the middle to bring in the fourth run of the inning.

The Thunderbirds would get one run back in the bottom half as Darnell Duckett, who led off the inning with a single, scored on Chris Piano’s two out single. Piano was two-for-five on the night. Hamilton got another run closer to Toronto in the bottom of the eighth as Zack Ranta walked to open the inning and scored on Durfee’s RBI double. The Maple Leafs would add two more runs in the top of the ninth to take the game 10-4 for their tenth victory of the season.

Ryan Van Spronsen started for Hamilton going five and a third innings allowing four runs, two of which were earned, on 11 hits, walking two batters and striking out one in the loss. Matt Betts relieved Van Spronsen going two-thirds of an inning allowing four earned runs on four hits and walking one batter. Bill Langford and Mike Fortuna each pitched an inning allowing one hit to the four batters they each faced. Nino Fasulo finished the game for the Thunderbirds allowing two runs, one earned, on one hit, walking one and striking out two.

For the Maple Leafs, Marek Deska started the game going seven innings, allowing three runs, all earned, on eight hits and striking out eight batters for his fifth victory of the season. Jon Lockwood closed the game for Toronto pitching two innings and allowing one earned run on one hit, walking one and striking out one.

The Thunderbirds next game is Sunday afternoon (June 26) when they host the Brantford Red Sox for a double header. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.