Baseball team splits weekend

After finishing 5-1 in pre season action, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s baseball team has opened up their regular season with a set of double headers against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the Guelph Gryphons.

The Hawks split both contests at a game a piece giving them a 2-2 record after week one.

“Having four games every weekend makes things a little bit different than what we’ve had in the past,” commented head coach Scott Ballantyne. “We have to have a lot of depth on the mound.”

The Varsity Blues visited Bechtel Park for the Hawks’ home opener and despite getting almost shut out in game one 10-2, the purple and gold secured an 8-3 victory in game two up against the 2009 Pitcher of the Year, Tyler Wilson.

For Laurier, third-year Steve Zagrodny picked up the win throwing a complete game.

Travelling to Guelph on Sunday, the Gryphons barely took the first game 9-8 but again the Hawks battled back in game two soaring to a 14-3 win.

Third-year Ryan Panas had a combined total of six hits, three RBI and two runs.

“We’re happy with the way we hit the ball – we scored 32 runs in four games,” said Ballantyne. “We didn’t play as great defensively as we’d like, so there’s a few things to work on but I think things are going in the right direction.”

For his outstanding performance over the weekend, highly touted rookie centre-fielder Nathan Loehle won both Laurier and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) athlete of the week honours. Loehle went 8 for 17 with nine runs scored, five RBIs and three stolen bases.

“Nathan can play,” said Ballantyne. “He’s got a lot of tools and he really put that on display this weekend; we know that he’s going to be the catalyst of our offense this season.”

A product of the Terriers baseball program in Cambridge, Ont. and a member of coach Ballantyne’s Junior Intercounty Champion summer squad, the KW Junior Panthers, Loehle has thus far had one of the most dominating rookie campaigns in Laurier baseball history.

The Hawks have a busy weekend ahead, travelling to Western on Friday to take on the reigning OUA Champion Mustangs, who took out the Hawks in two straight games last season to win the title (currently at 3-1 for the season). The Hawks then host an alumni game on Saturday, and finally take on the 4-0 Brock Badgers at home on Sunday.

“Right now our approach is to take it one game at a time; we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” said Ballantyne.

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