Stunning upsets highlight first day of action, as top seed and reigning champs fall

Photo by Christian Bender
Photo by Christian Bender

AJAX, Ont. – Upsets all around in day one of the 2017 OUA Baseball Championships, as the likes of top-seeded Brock and reigning champion Western have had their title aspirations come to an early end.

1st Round: Waterloo 6 Ryerson 3

The opening game of the OUA championship between Waterloo and hosting Ryerson went down to the ninth inning.  A three-run rally by the Warriors would help punch their ticket to the OUA Championship quarter-final, with a 6-3 win. 

In a back and forth game, Waterloo’s Joshua Sabino would open the ninth inning with a lead off walk to start the rally. Jordan Carthy and Erick Werner would have run scoring singles to give the Warriors a lead they would not relinquish.

Warriors starting pitcher, Stephen Gade, would battle through seven innings surrendering 10 hits to the Rams.  However, he was able to make the necessary pitches when needed and only surrendered three runs to Ryerson.  Sam Goindi, who has been a pleasant surprise for Waterloo, would pitch two scoreless innings to secure the win for the Warriors.

“Gade kept us in the game, he threw well and let our offence come back,” said Warriors head coach Tim Pegg.  “And on top of that, the zero in the error column, we didn’t give them extra base runners.”

Errors were the big difference in the game.  Caleb King, who lead the Rams in innings pitched, provided Ryerson with an excellent seven-inning performance.  He would allow three runs, but none of the runs were earned as a result of five Ryerson errors. 

Quinn Cumming, in his final game in the OUA, would surrender three runs in his two innings of work.  It could have been worse had it not been for an excellent diving play by centre fielder, Jared Armstong.

Ryerson opened the scoring in the fourth on a two out single by Sam Munro driving in Jason Te.  They could have had more but struggled to score leaving six runners on base through the first five innings.

In the top of the fifth, the Warriors’ Dan Inglis led off with a single followed by an error by pitcher Caleb King, on a bunt attempt by Mike Kritz.  A stolen base and back to back fly balls by Carthy and Werner gave Waterloo a 2-1 lead.

Werner struck again in the top of the seventh.  With two out and runners on first and second, he singled to left.  Rams left fielder Ciuffreda throw home beat the runner, but Aubin was unable to corral it and Kritz scored. 

In the bottom of the seventh, Ryerson would score two runs on a ground out by Armstrong and a double steal.  In the play, Fishbaum stole home and would be Ryerson’s best player with a five hit game leading off for the Rams.

Waterloo will play the Brock Badgers in Friday’s quarter-final at 7:00 pm, at the Pan Am Ballpark in Ajax.

Source: Sean Addis

1st Round: McMaster 11 Windsor 7

The McMaster Marauders put on a powerful offensive display to down the Windsor Lancers 11-7 in round one of the OUA Championship.  Freshman Jackson McIntosh hit a towering homerun in the fifth and scored three runs to help lead the Marauders past Windsor to open the tournament.

“I was expecting them to fill the zone down 0-2,” said Jackson McIntosh.  “I felt he was going to go with the breaking ball and just sat back on it and put it out.  Feels good when you hit homeruns you don’t feel it in the bat.”

The Lancers team, an outside entry into the tournament, was a wild card team for the other teams as they don’t play in the OUA baseball league.  This didn’t seem to pose a disadvantage to the Marauders in this game.

McMaster would score off Lancers left-hander Josh Neposlan early and often, scoring two in both the second and third and three in the fourth, to give the Marauders a 7-3 lead.  Willie Hotta and Brandon Chung both with multi hit games, along with McIntosh, would be key contributors to the offense for McMaster. 

McMaster starter Quinn Finch would battle through six innings against the unfamiliar Lancers. “We didn’t know what to expect,” said Finch.  “We had to adapt to them as the game went on.”

Finch would leave with a 9-4 lead, after the Marauders added runs in the fifth and sixth off of Windsor’s bullpen.

The Lancers would battle to within two, with a three run rally in the seventh off the McMaster bullpen.  Four walks and a McMaster error opened the inning and put the tying run on second base.  McMaster was able to induce a big double play to end the Lancer rally.

The Marauders would add two big insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to put the came out of reach and beat Windsor 11-7.

McMaster will play the Laurier Golden Hawks in a quarter-final later on Friday evening.

Source: Sean Addis

Quarterfinal 1: Toronto 6 Guelph 0

Toronto Varsity Blues ace pitcher Graham Tebbit, the most dominant pitcher in the OUA, continued his excellent season with an eight inning, five hit performance against the Guelph Gryphons.  The Varsity Blues used their team speed and the powerful bat of Mateos Kekatos to defeat the Gryphons 6-0, and move on to the OUA Championship semifinal on Saturday.

Tebbit used a fastball and curveball combination to keep Guelph hitters off balance.  He would strike out eight and not walk a batter over his eight innings of work.  After the game, Tebbit credited his team’s defense as being an important part to his success today.

“Our biggest strength today was our defense that made some really key plays,” said Tebbit. “Guelph slipped up twice maybe and we took advantage of it.  That is how the game works; who can take advantage of mistakes.”

In the first couple of innings Tebbit was still trying to find command of his curveball.  Guelph opened the second with two singles from Nick Interisano and Troy Lacoste, but a heads up play by left fielder Michael Deluca doubled off Interisano at second on a flyout. A pick off by Tebbit ended the biggest threat Guelph would have all afternoon.

Toronto would get on the board in the first, in large part due to their team speed.  Deluca would steal two bases, including a well executed double steal of home with Bradley Bedford.  This would lead to the first run of the game.  Later in the inning, a two-run error by Guelph would give Toronto a 3-0 lead after the first.

Deluca would again be part of the scoring for Toronto in the two run fourth inning.  With two out, Gabriel Nakonechny would double in a run and Deluca would follow with a run scoring single.  In the seventh, Kekatos would finish the Toronto scoring with a towering homerun off of Guelph reliever Nathan Kramer.

Gryphons lefty Mitch Over would pitch effectively over five innings.  He would surrender five hits and only two earned runs over five innings.

Guelph was unable to get anything going against the Toronto pitching.  They would only muster five hits against Tebbit and reliever Andrew Greig. 

The Toronto Varsity Blues will play in the second semifinal on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. against the winner of the Brock vs. Waterloo quarter-final.

Source: Sean Addis

Quarterfinal 2: Queen’s 9 Western 5

There will be a new team hoisting the Jason Guindon Trophy as OUA baseball champions this season after the two-time defending champion Western Mustangs bowed out in the quarter-final to a gutsy Queen’s Gaels squad.

Queen’s, who outscored, out-hit and were better defensively than the Mustangs, rode a quick start offensively and strong pitching from ace Will Langford on Friday en route to a 9-5 victory to send the Gaels to the semifinal.

Queen’s scored three runs in the top of the first inning and cashed in three more in the second to knock Western starter Dustin Godden out of the game after just 1.2 innings pitched.

Godden perhaps deserved a better fate as of the six runs he surrendered, only two of them were earned. The Mustangs committed a total of six errors in the game leading to seven unearned runs.

Matt Plut had a solid game for the Gaels batting in the two-hole. The third year centerfielder went 3-for-5 with three singles and two runs scored and was a spark for the No. 6 seed.

Queen’s starter Will Langford threw 125 pitches and was forced to pitch in a different style than he was used to which drew praise from his coach.

“Will has been one of our top guys all year but I thought that he had to grind because Western’s hitters were up there giving him tough at bats,” said head coach Jeff Skelhorne-Gross. “Will normally strikes out about 10 guys a game and in the first half of the game he actually didn’t have a strikeout. Despite the fact he wasn’t able to get those punch outs he continued to throw quality pitches.”

After trailing 6-0 through an inning and a half, the defending champion Mustangs didn’t go down without a fight. Western scored twice in the second and fourth innings and closed to within one in the fifth when Josh Szeto slapped an RBI single the other way into left field.

That was as close as the Mustangs would come, however, as Queen’s responded with three more insurance runs in the seventh inning.

“We staked ourselves to a really nice lead (but) like the tough team that they are, Western came back and made it tough on us. What I’m most proud of is the character that we showed in weathering that storm and answering even though they were all over us in the middle innings,” said Queen’s coach Skelhorne-Gross.

Gaels pitcher Devin Burns came on for the final two innings and shut the door for Queen’s, allowing just one hit and no runs.

With the win the Gaels advance to the first semifinal on Saturday starting at 11:00 a.m. They will face the winner of the Laurier vs. McMaster quarter-final.

Source: Andrea Elliott

Quarterfinal 3: Laurier 2 McMaster 0

On the heels of a complete game, six hit shutout performance from sophomore pitcher Kyle Symington, the Laurier Golden Hawks defeated the McMaster Marauders 2-0 to advance to the semifinal at the OUA baseball championship.

Symington was in control from the start, throwing nothing but strikes until the third inning.

“Kyle’s been really consistent for us all year…and every time he’s pitched he’s given us a chance to win,” said head coach Scott Ballantyne following the game. “He was dialed in right from when the bus took off from Waterloo today, he was ready to go. He threw strikes, got ahead of hitters, and had exactly the kind of start that we needed and were hoping for.”

The Golden Hawks gave Symington some run support in the bottom of the second which turned out to be the only runs of the game.

Back to back walks from Ryley Davenport and Dallas Taylor put the pressure on the Marauders defence and they couldn’t execute on their bunt defence when Kai Harris dropped one down. With the bases loaded, Nick Cook delivered an RBI single to left-centerfield to open the scoring. One out later, Taka Ryan tallied the second RBI single of the inning to give Laurier the 2-0 lead.

After Symington gave up his first hit in the third his defence came up big when left fielder Harris made a spectacular running catch into foul territory which carried him over the side fence for the final out of the inning.

Symington rolled through the middle innings with McMaster’s best opportunity to score coming in the seventh inning. The Marauders tallied back to back singles into centerfield but the runners were left stranded after a flyout to left.

Overshadowed by Symington’s performance, McMaster starter Julian Tymochko was also impressive. The sophomore tossed eight innings scattering eight hits and surrendering just the two runs.

The Golden Hawks will face the Queen’s Gaels in Saturday’s first semifinal starting at 11:00 a.m.

Source: Andrea Elliott

Quarterfinal 4: Waterloo 5 Brock 3

The OUA baseball championship had its first major upset when the ninth-ranked Waterloo Warriors defeated the top-ranked Brock Badgers in the quarter-finals.  The Warriors would use a strong pitching performance from their starter, five quality innings from the bullpen, and a four run fifth inning to eliminate Brock.

Sam Goindi returned to the mound after pitching the final two innings in Waterloo’s win over the host Ryerson Rams to open the tournament earlier on Friday.  He was able to pitch out of a couple of jams early in the game and give his team four solid innings. 

“Endurance wise he is a horse,” said head coach Tim Pegg about Waterloo starter Goindi.  “He could go out and throw 130 pitches.  The fact that he gave us four (innings) was pretty impressive in my book.  And the fact that he pitched out of a couple of jams was even more impressive.”

Brock opened the scoring three batters into the game.  Senior Justin Gideon doubled home lead off hitter Noah Koffman.  Later in the inning the Badgers loaded the bases with no one out but Goindi retired the heart of the Brock order to end the inning.  That was the first of many missed scoring opportunities for the top ranked OUA team. 

Goindi said after the game that the first inning helped increase his confidence against the deep and talented Brock lineup.  “It got me in a nice rhythm.  I knew if I could get out of a bases loaded no out situation and only let in one run then nothing could be a worse situation than that.”

After leaving the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, the Warriors would finally break through against Badgers starter, Derek Zwolinski.  With two on and one out, Stephen Whalen would hit an opposite field double to tie the game.  A few batters later, with two out and the bases loaded, Brock would bring in lefty Jacob Ebbs.  Waterloo hitters would show patience and work two full count walks to give the Warriors a 4-2 lead.

“We had faced him (Ebbs) earlier in the season and he was a little wild,” said Pegg.  “Our game plan when we went up there was we were going to make him come into the strike zone and we didn’t expand our zone.”

Both teams would exchange runs later in the game but Brock would be unable to capitalize on multiple opportunities throughout the game.

Waterloo head coach Pegg effectively managed his bullpen over the final five innings.  Near the end of the game, Warrior ace Stephen Gade went to Pegg and said he was available to pitch in the ninth if needed.  Gade had thrown seven strong innings against Ryerson earlier that day.  He continued his OUA playoff dominance shutting down the top of the Brock lineup, in the ninth, to preserve the win for Waterloo.

Waterloo will face Toronto in the second semifinal on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

Source: Sean Addis

Day 2 action kicks off at the Ajax Sportsplex at 11:00 am with the first semifinal (Queen’s v. Laurier), followed by the second semifinal at 3:00pm (Waterloo v. Toronto)