Baseball heads into final stretch
It was a cold, overcast day when the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s baseball team took to the field Saturday afternoon, hosting the second-place Guelph Gryphons as they kicked off their doubleheader.
Both teams remained scoreless until the top of the second inning when Guelph was the first to strike. They followed up with a strong third inning to go up 6-0. The Hawks finally warmed up in the bottom of the fifth when designated hitter, Daniel Murphy, got on base after hitting a single to the pitcher, and third baseman Jeff Hunt was able to bring him home, hitting a double towards second base and earning an RBI.
But that was all the offence the Hawks could muster as the Gryphons shut down the remaining batters and tallied another run to take the first game 7-1.
“The first game didn’t go so well,” Hunt said on the team’s performance during the day. “I mean, we made a couple of mistakes, a couple of errors in the field, I realize, but you know in the end, it was kind of us just being flat, no energy.”
Hunt did not seem to be shaken, knowing that he had to play the second game just 30 minutes after Laurier dropped the first contest of the day.
“The only thing you can really set yourself mentally to do is to not panic. Don’t get yourself in a state of mind where you’re like, ‘Oh my god, oh my god we’re getting beat up, this is terrible’, that’s what ends up plummeting your performance,” he continued.
The Hawks seemed to gain a boost of energy coming into the second game, scoring a run at the bottom of the first inning. The game stayed tight as Guelph was able to tie it up at the top of the fourth, and pitching from both teams remained stellar. It was not until the bottom of the fifth that Laurier broke the game wide open, starting with Hunt hitting a single to bring home one of the two runners on base, and center fielder Jonathon Brouse bringing in one of his three RBIs of the day.
Laurier never looked back after that, scoring two more to end the inning and taking the game 8-2.
“Huge,” Hunt replied when asked how important it was to get that RBI single at the beginning of the fifth inning to take control of the second game. “We’re now 11-7. If we didn’t win that game we’re 10-8, which is a big difference. Also, Guelph is above us in the standings, so if we go down two games to them, that’s huge. If we split we stay the same, and then hopefully we close the gap on them. It’s such a short season, every game counts. You can’t give up games like that.”
Head coach Scott Ballantyne was pleased overall with Laurier’s performance against Guelph.
“Guelph’s a tough team, so any time we come out of it with a split, it’s not a bad result for us,” he said. “We had one bad inning in the first game, anytime you give up a five spot it’s always hard to come back and win, but apart from that one inning, we had a good day.”
“We get back in the room, we talk about what we need to improve on, the score for the first game doesn’t carry over, we start out zero-zero, and see what we can do,” Ballantyne continued, when asked how he was able to motivate the team to come back in the second game. “We have a pretty good group of guys who can shake it off pretty fast and bounce back, whether we’ve won or lost the first game.”
Laurier’s next game is against the Ryerson Rams, who they will host on Tuesday after the game was postponed on Sunday due to rain. They play at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Bechtel Park in Waterloo.