Men’s baseball wins first OUA championship in school history
GUELPH, Ont. — For the first time in school history, men’s baseball was able to hoist the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship banner.
In an impressive effort from all fronts, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks fought to a 5-3 victory over the first-seeded Brock Badgers Sunday night at Hastings Stadium.
MLB draft pick Mitch Clarke would seal off a formidable performance by the Hawks by striking out three consecutive batters in the top of the ninth.
“It’s been a long time coming for us,” said head coach Scott Ballantyne. “I’ve been around this program for 15 years. This has been a really great time [and] this was a really great season. And this weekend, we showed we were the best team.”
After being rained out Saturday from playing their semifinal match, Laurier had played earlier in the day against the Guelph Gryphons and hung on for a 3-2 win. That sent Laurier back to play the Badgers, who they met in their opening game of the OUA tournament. Laurier won the first game 3-2.
Just before meeting Laurier, Brock played a 12-inning matchup with the Gryphons.
And in the final meeting, all scoring would be done early and come down to defence. The Badgers began the attack early with two quick runs at the top of the first, but Laurier would score a single run on a RBI double by Jeff Hunt.
Errors became the top-ranked Badgers’ biggest flaw, as Laurier was able to pick up two more runs before the end of the second inning. A Brock single in the third would round out the Badger’s scoring.
But Laurier wasn’t done. With the game tied 3-3 in the fourth inning, Adam Raithby would bring in both Daniel Murphy and Hunt off a single to put the Hawks ahead by two still early in the game.
From there, it was all defence. The pitching pair of Ian Filion, who just a week earlier threw a no-hitter, and Andrew Ziedens made for four quick innings of outs, and Brock couldn’t get anything working for them.
The ninth inning made room for Clarke to calmly put the game to rest, as the Hawks ran onto the field to celebrate their championship win.
“If we could have scripted it, that’s how we would have scripted it,” smiled Ballantyne.
Murphy was named the championship MVP after finishing the tournament with a .467 batting average and going 3-for-5 in the final and scoring the game-winning run.
Laurier advances to the OUA/OCAA championship hosted by Brock next weekend in St. Catharines.