The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s baseball team began their regular season at home on Saturday by hosting the Queen’s Gaels in a doubleheader at Bechtel Park. After coming into the season with a successful 8-0-1 preseason record, the Hawks split the weekend doubleheader, dropping to the Gaels 5-3 before shutting them out 4-0 in the second game.
“I think we did pretty good, it’s always fun having your first games,” said third-year catcher Daniel Apostoli.
The front end of the doubleheader featured fifth-year pitcher Jordan Petruska taking the mound for the Hawks.
Despite Laurier’s success against Queen’s in the past, it would be the Gaels that struck first.
The Gaels’ bats would come out strong, running off a series of consecutive hits to give them a 2-0 lead after the first inning of play.
However the Hawks defence would bounce back, led by Petruska who had eight strikeouts on the day and found his rhythm to shut down the Queen’s batters for the next six innings.
Laurier first baseman Adam Shaver kept the Hawks in the game with a run batted in single in the 5th inning, and with Hawks then down 3-1 in the ninth, Shaver came through with another clutch hit to knock-in a run and load the bases.
The Hawks would complete the comeback with a Callum Murphy walk to tie the game at three heading into extra innings.
“They’re a much improved team from where they were over the last few years, we can’t take anyone for granted,” said Laurier head coach Scott Ballantyne about Queen’s.
Laurier’s defence couldn’t contain the Gaels’ bats in extra innings however as Queen’s would take a commanding 5-3 lead they would not relinquish.
Despite the outcome of the first game, Ballantyne remained optimistic of the Hawks and their performance.
“We would of liked to come out here and shown a little better in the first game of the season after having such a good preseason,” he said.
“We battled back in that first game, which was good to see.”
Fifth-year pitcher Andrew Ziedins got the nod to start pitching the second game. This time around it was a different story; with Laurier taking an early lead and scoring one run on three hits in the first.
The Hawks wouldn’t look back.
Outfielder Adam Raithby would add an RBI single in the third, and first-year Christian Hauck would hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth to make it 4-0 for the Hawks, the eventual final score.
Lead off hitter Apostoli was an example of speed and versatility on the Hawks’ roster. Apostoli made his presence felt against the Gaels, scoring two runs and stealing a base over both games.
Apostoli started the first game of the day behind the plate catching Petruska, but moved to the outfield in the second half of the doubleheader, a role that could fit him well.
“It’s a lot of stress on your body,” said Apostoli. “We have a lot of good catchers here so I think a lot of players will get their chance behind the plate.”
“Definitely versatility is big for us and we got guys like [Daniel] Apostoli, like John King who played first base for us and can play all over the place, Matt Voight who was at third can play all over the place,” Ballantyne said.
“So yeah that makes a big difference for us, and four games in a weekend is a grind so when we can move guys in and out of positions it makes a big difference,” he said.
The Hawks will continue their regular season against cross-town rival University of Waterloo with a doubleheader on September 19. The first pitch will be thrown at 12 p.m. at Jack Couch Park in Kitchener.