The men’s baseball team will have to wait until next year to reclaim the national title, as they bowed out in the semifinals of the CIBA National Championships this past weekend.
The Stingers opened the tournament against the host, the St. Clair College Saints, on Friday evening.
The Saints finished at the very bottom of the standings in the Ontario conference, but were given a spot in the finals because they were hosting.
Stinger Braden Simpson pitched the whole game and gave three hits, five strikeouts and only one walk. He was named player of the game for the Stingers. Emilio Pampena went two for three with two RBI. The final score was 3-0 for Concordia.
The Brock University Badgers, the champions of the Ontario University Athletics league, were up next for Concordia on Saturday morning. Brock won the game by a score of 3-1.
Medhi Djebbar started the game for Concordia, and only gave up two unearned runs in the five innings he pitched. He was later taken out in order to save him for games on Sunday, if was needed him.
Kurtis Robinson pitched the whole game for the Badgers and gave just two hits while striking out seven Stingers.
Concordia recorded their first hit of the game with two outs in the sixth inning. With two runners on, team captain Jason Katz went up to bat, and popped out and the Badgers were leading 3-0 in the sixth inning.
Mark Nadler spoiled Robinson’s shutout bid when he scored off a ground out by Andre Lagarde in the seventh inning, but that was the only run they scored in the game.
Team manager Howard Schwartz explained that coming into the tournament as the 2009 champions didn’t help the team’s cause.
“We didn’t hit very well, but you have to understand &- we had an “x’ on our foreheads for the entire tournament. I haven’t seen such good pitching thrown against us in years. We faced better pitching in this tournament that we did all year,” said Schwartz. “We were the defending champions and everybody threw their best against us. […] Every team has one ace, and we saw them all.”
Later on Saturday afternoon, the Stingers shut out McGill 5-0 in a northern championship final rematch.
“It was the easier of the games we’d played,” Schwartz commented in reference to the score. “But it’s never easy against McGill.”
Lagarde was on the mound for Concordia and pitched the entire game. He gave up five hits, struck out three Redmen and walked two.
“They always had runners on base. It wasn’t like it was a piece of cake. … [Andre] was in control that game. He kept the McGill hitters off balance completely.”
Kevin Shelton went two for three with two hits, including a double, and scored two runs. He was named player of the game for the Stingers.
Sunday morning, Concordia went up against the Badgers again, this time in the semifinal match. Again, offence was hard to come by, and they fell 3-0.
“[Brock] threw their two aces at us, who just made our bats look real weak,” said Schwartz.
Simpson got the start again for Concordia, while Justin Ayles got the start for Brock.
Ayles pitched six innings and allowed no runs on just two hits with four strikeouts.
Simpson gave up six hits in the three innings he pitched, but according to Schwartz, the numbers don’t reflect his effort.
“He pitched well, he just made a couple of mistakes,” including letting go of a fastball that came in a little too high on Cameron Graham, who nailed it over the fence for one of two home runs by the Badgers that game.
“I think we lacked some depth, certainly on offence, we certainly lacked some big bats in our lineup, and I think that in the end, that probably was the difference,” said Schwartz. “In the end, that could probably answer some of the questions as to why we didn’t go all the way.”
Simpson and Shelton were named to the all-tournament team, the former as the best left-handed pitcher and the latter as the left fielder.
Though they couldn’t capture the title, Schwartz said he’s happy with his team’s performance.
“I think we did great to get to the semis. It was a struggle all year to play and win. The two playoff series were incredibly tough battles, and every game in the nationals was a tough battle and these guys put everything out there. They did everything they could do to win. There wasn’t any other reason, other than we just fell short.”