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Sunday, October 20, 2013Posted by Jamie Howieson
CHAMPIONS: MBASE wins first OUA banner
Laurier: 5 Brock - Final: 3
Laurier: 3 Guelph: 2
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GUELPH, Ont. (October 20, 2013) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's baseball team captured their first OUA Championship banner on Sunday evening as they defeated the Brock Badgers 5-3 in the championship game at Hastings Stadium.

The Golden Hawks, who were led by their pitching staff all year long, once again got a strong performance from the group. Starter Ian Filion of Whitby, Ont., and relievers Andrew Ziedens of Toronto, and Mitchell Clarke of Kitchener, Ont., combined to allow just four hits while striking out six to guide the team to victory.

"It's been a long time coming for us," commented Head Coach Scott Ballantyne after getting the traditional Powerade shower from his team. "I've been around this program for 15 years. This has been a really great team. This was a really great season. And this weekend we showed we were the best team."

In a rematch of the opening round of the championship, it was the Badgers who got off to the early lead. Despite having just completed a 12-inning marathon against Guelph to qualify for the final, Brock managed to push two runs across home plate in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead.

The Hawks responded in the bottom half of the inning thanks to RBI double by Jeffrey Hunt of Cambridge, Ont., to cut the lead to one.

After Filion sat the Badgers down in order in the second, the purple and gold took the lead thanks to some sloppy defence by Brock. A pair of errors directly contributed to two runs for Laurier and the Hawks took a 3-2 lead.

Brock would tie the game in the third but in the fourth, the Hawks restored their advantage. Daniel Murphy of Etobicoke, Ont., and Hunt led off with back-to-back singles off Brock starter Luke Miller of Newmarket, Ont., before Adam Raithby of Toronto, drove both runners home with a single to give Laurier a 5-3 lead.

From that point on, the Hawks' pitchers took over. Filion, who had thrown a no-hitter in his previous start, would work into the seventh inning, allowing just one earned run on four hits while striking out one. He was relieved by Ziedens, who promptly struck out the first two batters he faced en route to a solid one and two-thirds innings of relief work.

Holding on to their 5-3 lead heading into the ninth, Ballantyne turned the ball over to Clarke, a former Major League Baseball (MLB) draft pick. The 6-3 closer clinched the championship with a perfect 1-2-3 inning, striking out all three batters he faced to send the Hawks bench into delirium.

"The two guys, Jeff Hunt and Mitch Clarke, their experience has been huge for our guys," said Ballantyne of the two former MLB draft picks on his roster. "Anytime you can bring in a left-handed pitcher [Clarke] to close two games in one day, and three straight strikeouts in that one, it's a big plus for us."

Following the game, leadoff hitter and left fielder Daniel Murphy was named Championship MVP. The fifth year veteran finished the tournament with a .467 batting average, including going 3-for-5 in the final and scoring the championship-winning run.

"Dan Murphy had a fantastic weekend, especially today, three hits in both games," added Ballantyne on the MVP. "He's a fifth year guy, he was here when we lost to Western in the championship game in 2009 as a freshman, and he's been a great guy for us all year. Lots of leadership from him, and I couldn't be happier for him."

With the win, the Hawks advance to the OUA/OCAA Championship to be hosted by the Badgers next weekend in St. Catharines, Ont.
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