Hawks fall in OUA final
The Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks’ men’s baseball team suffered a heartbreaking loss on Sunday, watching the Western Mustangs walk away as the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) champions.
The Mustangs beat the Golden Hawks in game one of the series by a final score of 6-0 and went on to win game two 3-1 in extra innings, taking the series and the championship.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” said head coach Scott Ballantyne. “But I think we have a lot to be proud of. We’ve made it further than any other team we’ve ever had.”
The Hawks finished their regular season with a 10-8 record, matching a Laurier baseball best. The second place finish is also a first in the team’s history.
Game one of the series was played at the Labatt Centre in London. Mustangs’ left-handed pitcher and MVP of the game Jordan Townshend dominated the Hawks, racking up 15 strikeouts in the 6-0 win.
Led by OUA Rookie of the Year starting pitcher Andrew Greenberg, the Hawks looked to bounce back in game two of the series in front of a huge crowd at home.
“I thought we had a really good shot going into the game,” said third year Mike Kennedy.
“Especially coming back to our home park; we’ve had a pretty good run there this season.”
However, the Mustangs’ pitchers were on fire yet again, with starting pitcher and MVP of the game Andrew Bergman striking out five batters and shutting out the Hawks, before giving way to reliever Carlos Cabrero in the ninth.
Western earned their first run of the game early in the first inning; they would hold that 1-0 lead until the bottom of the ninth inning.
In the ninth, with their season on the line, the Hawks rallied.
Ryan Panas reached base on an error and Brian MacDonald was then walked. Both runners went on to advance on a passed ball, and Chris Pittaway was walked to load the bases. In a pivotal play, Panas was picked off third base for the second out of the inning.
“To identify that he was a little bit too far off was a pretty smart play by their captain and third base man,” said Ballantyne.
“It was our mistake and they capitalized on it.”
However, captain Scott Mahn walked to first base to yet again load the bases. Veteran Mike Kennedy was brought in as a pinch hitter and hit an RBI single that sent the game to extra innings.
“I thought it gave us pretty good momentum tying the game up,” said Kennedy.
“I definitely thought we could’ve ended it that inning.”
However, the Mustangs would add two runs in the tenth and end up taking the game 3-1, ending the Hawks’ hopes of an OUA title.
“The crowd support and school spirit that we saw today was phenomenal,” said Ballantyne.
“We had a great season and I’m proud of each of the guys.”