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Men's Baseball
Western Downs OUA All-Stars

TORONTO - Sunday May 4th marked the second annual OUA Baseball All-Star Showcase held at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.  The game featured the three-time OUA Champion Western Mustangs against a team of OUA All-Stars.  Western, despite committing 5 errors in game, battled back from a 4-0 deficit to earn a hard fought 7-5 victory.

Laurier was well represented in this game with 6 players participating.  Scott Mahn (2B) and Andrew Stevens (RF) started for the All-Stars and Gary Money (C), Curtis Young (1B) and Damien Eccleton (SS) all entered the game as substitutes in the 6th inning.  Brad Binns (RHP) also worked in the game for the All-Stars.  Chris Pittaway (3B) was selected to participate in this game however Pittaway recently underwent surgery on his left arm and was unable to participate.  Pittaway is expected to be ready to return to full action come September. The All-Stars were coached by Laurier head coach and 2007 OUA Baseball Coach of the Year, SCOTT BALLANTYNE.  Ballantyne brought along his entire coaching staff for the event.

Thanks to a number of walks and Western errors, the All-Stars build a 4-0 lead through three innings of play.  The defensive play of the game came courtesy of Laurier second baseman Scott Mahn, which was only fitting given that it was Aaron Hill Bobblehead Day at the Blue Jays game prior to the All-Star game.  Mahn ranged far to his left and sprawled out to make a fantastic play only to get up to this feet and throw a strike to first base to retire the Western hitter.  It was definitely an All-Star type play.

With Binns on the mound in the top of the 6th, Western’s bats came alive.  In his second inning of work, Binns ran out of gas and allowed a couple of runs to score before being relieved by Geoff Moroz (University of Waterloo).  Moroz was unable to stop the bleeding as Western punched across 6 runs in the inning, highlighted by a 2 run double by Western right fielder Andrew Salmon.  Western tacked on another run in the top of the 9th to take a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the inning.  The All-Stars worked three consecutive walks to lead off the bottom of the ninth to make the game interesting.  Western then brought in shortstop Mark DiGuilio to pitch as they had exhausted their 9 man bullpen.  DiGuilio struck out the first batter he faced, Nick Swerdlyk (University of Guelph) and then forced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Joe Kirby (Brock University) to end the ball game. 

DiGuilio was named MVP for his great performance to lock down the save.  He was also 1 for 3 at the plate.

It is still very early in the summer seasons for the players and the rust was showing during the game.  The Laurier hitters went a combined 1 for 8 on the day with Gary Money picking up the lone Laurier hit. 

“The game was a huge success and the players all really enjoyed themselves.  This event is student-athlete focused and our aim was to provide a venue to showcase the best players that our league has to offer” commented Laurier Head Coach and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, SCOTT BALLANTYNE.  “It’s exciting to get a chance to play in a Major League park and we all soaked up the experience”.

Laurier finished 2007 in a tie for third place in the OUA with a record of 9-9.  Laurier was bounced from the playoffs by Western 2 games to 1 in the semi-final series.  The Hawks returns 8 of the 9 starting position players from 2007 (5 of which played in the All-Star game) and should pose a threat in 2008.  The coaching staff is actively working on adding some talented young student-athletes to the already strong group of players and hope to be able to announce the 2008 recruiting class very soon.

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