The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s baseball team completed a very busy week of training camp with a 7-0-1 record following a 2-1 win over the defending OUA/OCAA Champion St. Clair College Saints on Sunday afternoon. The win completed the three game sweep of the Saints following 8-1 and 5-4 victories at Bechtel Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Hawks are coming off their most successful regular season in school history in 2014, as the team finished with a 14-4 record. However, the Golden Hawks were not able to parlay that regular season success into post season success and finished 3rd at the OUA Championship tournament. This year’s edition of the Golden Hawks will look for redemption in an effort to regain the OUA Championship that the program won in 2013.
The 3 game series with St. Clair was a great early test for the Golden Hawks as St. Clair has had Laurier’s number over the past couple of seasons. St. Clair has a deep roster with many players who have won Canadian Championships on their club teams. Jordan Petruska was the starter in game one on Saturday and he looked in mid-season form as he heads into his fifth and final season as a Golden Hawk. Petruska worked 6 innings giving up 1 run on 5 hits with 0 walks and 11 strikeouts. Noah Ivanyi threw a scoreless 7th inning to close things out. Offensively, Laurier was led by LF Nathan Folo and RF Alex Kupchak who had 2 hits apiece. 3B Jeff Hunt doubled and scored 3 times in the victory. DH Adam Shaver and Kupchak each drove in two runs.
Game two was a pitchers dual early as Andrew Ziedins threw well for the Golden Hawks. St. Clair got to Ziedins for 2 runs in the 5th inning to knock him out of the game. They added another 2 runs off Laurier reliever Jake Tougas in the 6th inning, but it could have been worse for the Hawks, as Tougas struck out 2 St. Clair hitters with runners on 2nd and 3rd to keep the game close. St. Clair threatened again in the 7th inning, but freshman LHP Tanner Goldsmith kept them off the board to set up some bottom of the 7th heroics for the Golden Hawks. Laurier chipped away at the 4-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th and after 4 hits and 2 walks, the game was tied. DH Brett Medland ended the game with a walk off single to send the fans home happy with a 5-4 Laurier win. Goldsmith picked up the win in relief. Medland led the offense with 3 hits and an RBI. 2B Christian Hauck and LF Mitchell Willoughby each had 2 hits.
Sunday’s game with St. Clair was another pitcher’s dual. Fifth year starter Adam McBride was dominant for Laurier as he worked 5 shutout innings giving up 1 hit with 0 walks and 2 strikeouts. Laurier got on the board in the fourth inning when SS Callum Murphy doubled home 1B John King and DH Brett Medland. St. Clair managed to push a run across in the 6th inning off freshman pitcher Nick Murray, but the combination of Murray, Jordan Ferrazzo, Shawn Miller and Noah Ivanyi shut down the Saints the rest of the way, with Ivanyi picking up the save in the 2-1 Laurier victory. LF Daniel Apostoli led the way offensively with 2 doubles. CF Nathan Folo also had 2 hits.
“Our starting pitching this weekend was superb,” commented Head Coach SCOTT BALLANTYNE. “Petruska, Ziedins and McBride were really tough and kept a good hitting team at bay. In 15 1/3 innings they walked 1 hitter. When you don’t give away free bases, it’s much easier to pitch and these 3 veterans really set the tone for our younger pitchers. Offensively we had some really good at-bats and got production from up and down our line-up. This was a very satisfying weekend against a very tough opponent.”
Leading up to the series with St. Clair, Laurier had a busy week of exhibition/non-conference games. Prior to the selection of the team, the Golden Hawks hosted the Kincardine Cubs Senior team and won by a score of 6-3. This past weekend, Kincardine claimed the OBA Senior A Championship. On Tues. Sept. 1st, Laurier made their annual trek to St. Mary’s to play a double header at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Laurier beat the Ontario Terriers U18 team 16-2 in game one and played the University of Toronto to a 3-3 tie in the second game. On Wed. Sept. 2nd the University of Guelph travelled to Bechtel Park for a non-conference game. Guelph jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the first inning, but the Golden Hawks responded with 4 runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning and eventually took the lead and hung on for a 9-8 victory. Humber College came to town on Thursday and Laurier got out to an early 8-1 lead through 1 inning and hung on to a rain shortened 13-5 victory that ended after 7 innings due to a short heavy rain that hit the park.
Laurier will finish off their pre-season schedule on Wednesday night with a home game against the Fanshawe Falcons at 7pm at Bechtel Park.
Laurier opens up the 2015 OUA season on Sat. Sept. 12th at home against the Queen’s Gaels. Queen’s has had a strong pre-season and will be a good early season test for the Golden Hawks.