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Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2019
Free passes prove costly as Voyageurs drop two of three to Leaside
by Randy Pascal

Squeezed between a pair of fairly offensive outings, the middle encounter of a Saturday triple-header between the Leaside Leafs and Sudbury Voyageurs would see batters from both teams endure far more challenges in trying to get good wood on the ball.

Unfortunately, for the northern Ontario homeside, local pitchers also struggled to find the strike zone, as the Voyageurs dropped a 4-1 decision to the Leafs. Sudbury took the first game by a final score of 8-6, losing the finale 10-6. In between, fans were treated to something of a pitcher's duel.

Leaside starter Marco Mastrocola absolutely cruised through the first five innings of play, surrendering just two hits, allowing only four runners, in total, to reach base, and striking out seven Sudbury hitters.

Meanwhile, his counterpart, Brett Melanson, was also avoiding being hit around, giving up just three singles. Unfortunately, the lanky right-hander was also dealing with control issues, walking seven Leafs in four innings of work, two of whom would come around to score.

In total, Voyageur pitchers (Melanson, Braedon Whalen, Tanner Morrison) issued no less than a dozen free passes, in addition to hitting a batter, which spoiled a performance in which they were tagged for just five hits over the course of seven innings.

Trailing 3-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning, the Voyageurs strung together singles from Devin Yaroshuk, Chris Benoit and Carter Magee to get on the board, before Mastrocola induced clean-up batter Cameron Docking into an inning-ending ground ball out, leaving runners stranded at second and third.

Darcy Maus walked three times for Leaside, scoring a pair of runs, while the top two players in the Leafs batting order reached safely on seven out of eight attempts. Benoit was 2-2 for the Voyageurs, lacing a double down into the right field corner, as Mastrocola limited he and his teammates to six hits while earning a complete game (seven inning) win.

"I was seeing the fastball, inside, a bit better than most of our guys were seeing today," said Benoit after the middle contest. "I was able to get to the ball better, hitting a bit better today. I'm looking fastball inside, that's typically the pitch I am looking for."

The 18U Voyageurs are now sitting with a record of 6-9 in the Elite Baseball League of Ontario Premier Division play, leaving this upcoming weekend to take part in provincial playdowns in Burlington.

"I think we're in the right level," said Benoit. "I think we have a very good chance of competing, especially in the eliminations coming up. Our pitching is definitely going to be key, and our bats have to come alive, especially if we're going to have a chance to win."

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