The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s baseball team kicked off their regular season with four games last weekend.
The Hawks split their series on Saturday against the Waterloo Warriors, losing 3-2 before winning 9-4 on Saturday and then bounced back on Sunday by sweeping the Guelph Gryphons 10-5 and 3-1 respectively. The games improved the Hawks record to an overall record of 3-1.
“Overall, I think, you never want to split a doubleheader, but we’ve started out worse,” head coach, Scott Ballantyne said last Saturday.
The first game of the weekend was a defensive battle between the Hawks and Warriors, featuring stellar pitching from second-year Christian Hauck and Warriors pitcher, Ryne Weppler.
Deadlocked at one run each, the Warriors took a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth and notched another in the top of the run. Outfielder Jonathan Brouse added a home run to keep the game close but the Hawks came out on the losing end 3-2.
The second game ;however, featured much more offense and the heavy hitting style of play seemed to favour the Golden Hawks.
The Hawks answered with four runs in the bottom of the first inning from third-year infielders Matthew Voight and Robert Cant and never let the lead escape.
The Warriors came close in the third inning, cutting the lead to one, but every time the Warriors responded, the Hawks’ offence replied with runs of their own.
“They played really good defensively, their pitcher threw a lot of stirkes,” Ballantyne said regarding the first matchup.
“We made a couple mistakes and they capitalized on it. I’m really proud that the guys bounced back even though we went down 2-0 in the first [inning] in the second game.”
An important part of the Hawks’ identity has been their pitching depth.
With the loss of pitchers Jordan Petruska, Adam McBride and Andrew Ziedins from graduation, as well as some key outfielder pieces like Alex Kupchak, the Hawks had to mix and match during their 11 non-conference games to fine-tune before the regular season.
Ballantyne said that the team feels pretty comfortable with how they look, as well as with their pitching depth, a crucial piece that Ballantyne focuses on during the recruiting process.
“We used seven different pitchers [Saturday], another five or six that can be ready to go for tomorrow and use them,” he said. “We feel like we have more depth than some other teams [and] as the season goes on it will help us.”
Ballantyne said that pitching will always be the Hawks primary objective.
The Hawks starter, Hauck, threw a no-hitter last year against the McMaster Marauders and division I transfer AJ Padmore from the North Carolina A&T Aggies started the second game.
The Hawks also have a bunch of other guys who Ballantyne thinks can contribute right away, some who are moving in to their second year, while others are fresh recruits and have tons of experience in their summer leagues.
Going forward, Ballantyne hopes that the Hawks take two important lessons away from their matchups this weekend and implement them into their next games.
“I think they learned that when you make mistakes, more mistakes than they did, you lose. Then the second game we got some clutch hits,” Ballantyne explained.
“I think that’s some of the biggest takeaways we’ve talked about and now they’ve got a chance to see it. When you make mistakes, you generally lose and you get big hits you generally win…It’s nice when the stuff you talk about actually comes through and they can see it first hand.”
Next, the Hawks host the Western Mustangs in regular season play.
The doubleheader kicks off on Saturday September 17 at 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at Bechtel Park.