Losing the battle for first

It was a cold, inhospitable day for the Golden Hawks at Bechtel Park on Sunday afternoon.

Photo by Heather Davidson
Photo by Heather Davidson

It was a cold, inhospitable day for the Golden Hawks at Bechtel Park on Sunday afternoon.

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s baseball team battled the elements and themselves while dropping both games versus the Brock Badgers on Sunday afternoon. They fell 6-1 and 6-5 respectively in a bout for the top spot in Ontario University Athletics.

Brett Van Pelt was handed his first loss of the season in game one of the doubleheader. He effectively deployed a fastball-changeup combination, yielding six strikeouts to bring his total to a league-leading 40 on the year.

However, he left after six and one third innings, down 3-1.

Despite his strikeout milestone, Van Pelt was not pleased with the result.

“I didn’t really have my ‘A’ stuff today – I was struggling with my command a little bit,” he said.

“Noah [Ivanyi] bailed me out, he came in and got those guys out and kept it 3—1 and gave us a chance to win in the back end of the game. That’s all you can ask, really.”

However, the Hawks bullpen was unable to keep the game close, surrendering three more runs in the loss.

Andrew Ziedins was the starter for the second end of the double header. Ziedins, who was coming off a complete game effort in his last start, struggled early.

But head coach Scott Ballantyne spoke highly of his junior starter’s ability to maintain his composure and persevere through adversity.

“Andrew’s a great pitcher, he’s really a bulldog out there,” said Ballantyne.

“He’s really emerged as our number three starter which is what we’re going to need going into the playoffs. He gives us a chance to win every time he pitches,” he said.

“He bared down and got us into the seventh inning and you can’t ask more than that.”

Laurier struggled to control the Brock running game early, allowing stolen bases abound. The Badgers’ loud, aggressive style of baseball can be abrasive, and at several points the Golden Hawks voiced their displeasure with the Badger bench.

This, when compounded with controversial umpiring, led to a tense, angry atmosphere on the Laurier side. Nonetheless, Ballantyne asserted that they try to tune out distractions and focus on their own game.

“Brock’s a team that’s a lot similar to us—they play a lot of the same style as us, and we know they’re going to be vocal whenever we play them,” he said.

“We just have to worry about focusing in on our own baseball and not worrying about what they’re doing.”

With the Golden Hawks’ winning streak snapped, their eyes now lie on next weekend’s matchup with Queen’s and further yet, the playoffs.

Two wins against the Gaels would clinch second place and a first-round bye in the playoffs, which take place at McMaster’s Bernie Arbour Stadium.

But neither Ballantyne nor Van Pelt seemed ready to settle for the team’s already favourable placement in the OUA standings, and felt there was much to be worked on over the Hawks’ final week of baseball prior to the playoffs.

“We’ve been trying to get better and better every week. We know that we have to get a little bit better in terms of moving runners along when we have less than two outs and runners on base,” said Ballantyne.

“We battled today, but we’ve definitely got to be better,” said Van Pelt. “Take tomorrow off, and get back out Tuesday at practice.”
Laurier’s final regular season games come against a 6-5 Queen’s team fresh off back-to-back thrashings to Brock and Ryerson.

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