WATERLOO, Ont.- After putting out the McMaster Marauders in the semifinals, the Golden Hawks are now set to face the rival Western Mustangs in the best of three OUA Championship final series.
Western finished first overall in regular season play, and have beat the Hawks three times this season. However, after sweeping the reigning OUA Champions in the semis, the Golden Hawks are ready to go.
“We know what to expect from Western,” said head coach SCOTT BALLANTYNE
. “They play a similar style to us in that they are aggressive and like to play small-ball.”
The Hawks have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with this year, earning back to back Rookie of the Year awards – pitcher Andrew Greenberg
was named this year, and third base man Ryan Panas
was last year’s winner. The Hawks have also had three players named to the OUA all-star team – relief pitcher Joshua Robinson
, catcher Chris Pittaway
, and designated hitter Jesse Milanovich
The Laurier roster also holds a number of league stats leaders. Center fielder Elliott Shrive
sits in the third spot for stolen bases with 11, Joshua Robinson
carries the best ERA, and first baseman Brian MacDonald
is ranked third in terms of fielding with 146 putouts in 20 games.
But perhaps what sets the Golden Hawks apart the most is their envious combination of veteran leadership and rookie talent. The team maintains a significant number of fourth and fifth year players, hungry for an OUA championship, and who know what is takes to succeed in the league.
Three-time all-star captains Scott Mahn
and Chris Pittaway
are the team’s leaders, while short stop Pat Kropf
, left fielder Jeff Brunsek, and two time OUA homerun leader Brian MacDonald
round out the veteran starting lineup.
The handful of sophomores on the team are also not to be forgotten- look for Ryan Panas
manning third base, and speedster James Bruce
in the right fielder.
The Mustangs however, also have a number of key players. Captain and second baseman Bruce Craine leads the team while left handed pitcher Jordan Townshend stands as UWO’s number one starter. Centre fielder Andrew Thomson is second in the league in hits this year, while right fielder Andrew Salmon and second starting pitcher Andrew Bergman are also expected to deliver.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me as I once played for Western’s head coach, Mike Lumley when I was in high school,” said Ballantyne. “Coaching against him in the OUA finals is a thrill and will be a great experience.”
Game one will be played at Labatt Park in London at 7:00 pm. Game two will take place at Bechtel Park here in Waterloo on Saturday at 1:00 pm; admission is free. If necessary the third and final game of the series will take place in London Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm.