TORONTO - The Kitchener Panthers held off another ninth-inning rally by the Toronto Maple Leafs to seal a 12-6 win at Christie Pitts, taking a commanding 3-1 lead in their quarter final playoff series.
Starter Adam Echlin pitched a gem, throwing seven innings of shutout baseball while only allowing four hits. His counterpart, Toronto's Troy Marks, lasted four innings after giving up six runs.
With the win, the Panthers are only one victory away from advancing to the playoffs' second round. The series returns to Kitchener Thursday night for a 7:30 p.m. start at Jack Couch Park.
The Panthers' bats kept piling on Wednesday night in Toronto, clubbing 17 hits. Tanner Nivins continued his hot hitting in the post-season, driving in four runs on five hits, including a home run. Nivins now leads all IBL batters in the post season with a scorching .647 average.
Mat Taube stroked three RBI and Kaiden Bowers drove in two. Darnell Duckett showed patience at the plate and got aboard three times on walks, and stole two bases. Mike Glinka, Mitch Delaney, Nivins and Bryon Bell, who's hitting .611 in the playoffs, each stroked two doubles.
The Leafs couldn't respond until the bottom of the ninth, when they rattled reliever Kaisuke Saito for six runs. Matt Robertson came on with one out to end the game and seal the victory.
After Echlin left the game, Mike Gatchene came in and pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Toronto's
Rick Brooks allowed another four runs on eight hits in his four innings before Cam Gray finished the game for Toronto.
The Leafs scored their six runs in the bottom of the ninth on a two-run single by Raul Borjas, an RBI single by Glenn Jackson and a solo homer by Sean Mattson, and were helped along by two Kitchener errors and two wild pitches.