Laurier wins thrilling home opener in extras

On a brisk evening at Bechtel Park in Waterloo, the Laurier Golden Hawks proved that they are capable of grinding out tough wins while showing a flare for the dramatics.

Starting pitcher Jack Malone pitched into the 7th inning, allowing three runs but left the ball game in line for a tie, as he ran into a troubling loss of control that forced him out of the game.

The bullpen was able to finish off the rest however, as David Canavan contributed to the win, allowing Brett Van Pelt to earn the victory after two stellar innings of relief work, highlighted by four strikeouts and no base runners. However, it was the action on the base paths in the 9th and 10th that kept the game going.

After two exciting plays at home where third-baseman Ryan Panas and designated hitter Nathan Loehle were thrown out for the Hawks, Tim Schell finally drove in first year standout Darnell Duckett for what was the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, finally capitalizing on a situation with a runner in scoring position.

Driving in runs was something the Hawks had difficulty with all evening, as they stranded an astounding 16 runners in the game’s first nine innings.

While he did not earn the win, starter Jack Malone was consistent all evening, changing speeds and frustrating Waterloo batters for most of his seven innings pitched.

“I lost my control a little at the end there,” said Malone. “But the guys played great defense behind me and it was a team win”.

By the end of the game, the Golden Hawks had satisfied the crowd’s desire for a win, even though it may have taken longer than expected.

Leading the way offensively was Ryan Panas who backed up stellar defence by going 2-for-3 with two RBI and three walks. Nathan Loehle also contributed nicely by going 2-for-4 with two doubles.

The Golden Hawks’ season continues this weekend with four games at a Kick-Off Tournament in Guelph before hosting Guelph next Wednesday as they look to fulfill hefty expectations for the 2011 season.