Clay Caulfield struck out 14 Hamilton batters and his teammates scored seven times in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Maple Leafs defeated the Cardinals 9-3 in Intercounty Baseball League action on Canada Day at Christie Pits in Toronto.
The loss drops Hamilton’s record to 5-18 and leaves the Cards 3 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot held by the Burlington Twins with 13 games remaining in the regular season. Toronto improves its record to a game below .500 at 11-12, nine games out of first place.
Hamilton opened the scoring in the top of the first. Matt McGraw reached base on a fielder’s choice and scored on Dan Jagdeo’s sixth home run of the season to take a 2-0 lead through a half inning of play. The two RBI gave Jagdeo 20 on the year.
In the bottom of the second, Aaron Guinn stole second base after drawing a two-out walk. He advanced to third when catcher Matt Fortuna’s throw went into centre field on the steal. Tyler Fata drew a walk with the fourth pitch getting by Fortuna to allow Guinn to score, making it 2-1. The Cards got that run back in the top of the fourth as Jagdeo led off with a double and scored on Justin Malabanan’s single.
But in the fifth inning, the wheels fell off the Hamilton wagon as Toronto sent 10 batters to the plate. Fata walked and stole second base to open the inning. Glenn Jackson singled to cash in Fata and then moved to third as Nino Fasulo’s pickoff attempt went down the first base line.
Branfy Arias became a base runner after being hit by a pitch. Jordan Castaldo followed up with an RBI single to tie the game at three. Will Richards doubled and Dan Marra singled, each scoring a run, before the Cardinals could get the first out of the inning.
Damon Topolie’s grounder produced the first out of the inning but brought in the eventual game winning run. Guinn finished the inning’s scoring with a two-run home run to make it 9-3 in favour of Toronto.
For Hamilton, Fasulo started and took the loss going four innings, allowing six runs – four earned – on five hits, walking four, hitting one batter, striking out two, throwing two wild pitches and committing a balk. Matt Betts took over in the fifth, allowing three runs, one of which was earned, on five hits and striking out one. Zach Pearson pitched the final two innings for the Cardinals allowing three hits while walking one and striking out two.
For Toronto, Caulfield pitched eight strong innings for the win allowing three earned runs on six hits striking out 14 batters and throwing a wild pitch.
Hamilton travels to Brantford to try and end a three-game losing streak and the 12-game winning streak of the league leading Red Sox on Wednesday at 8 p.m.