Maple Leafs (1-1) at Royals (0-1) Preview

by Jake Eagle

Saturday afternoon's contest versus the Toronto Maple Leafs is the first matchup of the season between the Leafs and Royals since last year's thrilling best of five quarter-final series which saw the Leafs advance in the fifth and deciding game via a 6-2 combined no-hitter by Zach Sloan and Marek Deska.

The Leafs would then be swept aside in the semi-finals by the Kitchener Panthers. The Leafs so far this season are 1-1 losing their season opener 11-7 to Brantford on May 5th before bouncing back to down the Hamilton Cardinals 12-5 last Sunday afternoon at Christie Pits.

In that game Leafs reliever Justin Cicatello not only came into pitch in the game, but the Buffalo native also collected his first career hit which was a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning which lit the fuse on a four-run inning for the Leafs.

Mother nature has not been kind to the Leafs or Royals to this point in the season either as the Leafs were canceled in Hamilton Friday night and the Royals were canceled in Kitchener last Sunday afternoon. Both games called due to poor field conditions with all the rain Ontario has been hit within the past week.

The Royals will look to even up their season record after losing the lead in the later stages of last Saturday's season opener vs. the Kitchener Panthers 5-4.

The Panthers who trailed 4-2 heading into the ninth inning, benefited from back to back walks to start the inning off reliever Edwin Javier before he was replaced by Brett Lawson.

Mike Andrullis loaded the bases with an infield bunt single off Lawson before singles by Collin Gordner (2 RBIs) and Tanner Nivins drove home the tying and go-ahead runs. Lawson (0-1) took the loss, giving up a run on three hits. He notched a strikeout.

Fernando Fernandez-Beltran made his IBL debut for the Royals pitching a solid five innings, allowing five hits and two runs with a walk and tallied six strikeouts. Sean Reilly drove in two of the Royals' runs. Ethan Mohan had an RBI and scored once, while Darius Barlas added a double and scored.

- Neil Srivastava