AJAX, Ont. (Saturday, October 14 2017) – The Laurier Golden Hawks used their talented pitching depth to come back and beat the Queen’s Gaels, 5-4, in the first game of the OUA baseball championship semifinals. Right-hander Christian Hauck, last year’s OUA Pitcher of the Year, came out of the Laurier bullpen and pitched six scoreless innings surrendering only two hits. His lockdown performance allowed the Golden Hawks offence to overcome a 4-1 deficit and punch their ticket to the finals on Sunday.
Hauck would come in from the bullpen in the fourth with his team down by three. He would strikeout eight batters and would easily dominate the Queen’s lineup.
Head coach SCOTT BALLANTYNE said using Hauck potentially out of the bullpen was part of their game plan, and he didn’t hesitate when his starter AJ Padmore had some early struggles.
“We had a decision to make last night whether we were going to start AJ or Christian. Christian was the pitcher of the year last year and we opted to go with AJ,” said Ballantyne. “We talked about Christian being like an Andrew Miller type of reliever, who we were going to potentially use in multiple situations. We have too many good arms to leave a guy out there too long. They barely hit AJ, a couple of walks and that bloop single that scored two. But we felt his velocity was down from his previous start, so it was the right time to get Christian.”
And after three innings Laurier saw the opportunity to put their plan into motion and bring in Hauck.
In the first inning, Queen’s scored two runs off Laurier lefty Padmore. They took advantage of a lead off walk and three errors by the usually steady Golden Hawks infield defence. In the third Padmore struggled to find his release point. He walked the first two batters to open the inning. They eventually came around to score on a bloop single by Gaels right-fielder Curt Smith.
Laurier would open the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first. Ryley Davenport doubled in Rob Cant. However, the Golden Hawks could have added more, but Queen’s starter Austin O’Boyle was able to induce a pop out and strikeout to end the inning.
Laurier would tie the game with three runs in the fourth. A bases loaded walk to the number nine hitter Taka Ryan, followed by a fly out by Daniel Apostoli and a run-scoring single by Cant tied the game at four.
Gaels O’Boyle would pitch seven strong innings allowing seven hits and walking one while striking out two. However, in the seventh the Queen’s defence would make two huge errors that would sandwich around a Davenport single. This would give the Golden Hawks the lead, 5-4.
Errors led to a total of three unearned runs against the two teams. But there were some outstanding defensive plays, including Laurier catcher Connor Patterson who threw out two runners attempting to steal and Gaels centre fielder, Matt Plut, who made a spectacular over the shoulder catch.
Queen’s reliever Alex Rich would retire Laurier in the eighth to keep it a one run game. But Hauck would retire the final seven batters he faced to preserve the win for the Golden Hawks.
“I just knew I had to go in there and throw strikes and keep us in the ballgame,” said Hauck. “My fastball and command was there and I was able to use it to my advantage.”
Laurier will play in the gold medal game Sunday, while Queen’s will play Sunday in the bronze medal game.