The Concordia Stingers baseball team hopes to put Sunday’s long, cold, damp and disappointing day behind them before the CIBA National Championship begins this weekend.
Concordia was unseated from their throne as two-time defending conference champions by the Carleton Ravens, losing the first game 4-3, winning game two 6-4, before losing the decisive third game 4-0.
The team expected to play two games Saturday, and if necessary one game Sunday, in a best-of-three series, to decide which team would be crowned CIBA Northern Conference champions. Mother Nature refused to clear her schedule for the series though, as Saturday’s game was rained out, forcing a triple-header on Sunday.
It was a lot of baseball in one day for any team to play.
“It was a long day for us,” said Stingers pitcher Matthew Jacobson, who started game three. “I mean, both teams had to play under the same circumstances, but still, it was tough.”
Despite losing the conference championship, under the new CIBA structure, both Carleton and Concordia will be playing for the national title this weekend in Moncton, N.B. Although, the Stingers were unable to win the series arguably because of the automatic berth.
“I’ve been in the game for 40 years longer than any of the players and it was tough for me to stay prepared and focused,” said Stingers manager Howard Schwartz. “So it was definitely tough for the players.”
“I don’t necessarily think it was a lack of focus, but definitely the intensity wasn’t like it normally is,” said Jacobson.
Ideally, the team didn’t want to lose their way into the championship, but neither Jacobson nor Schwartz were too concerned with the loss. “I know we’ll be ready to play [at nationals],” said Schwartz.
“Maybe it was good in a way, because it showed us we need to come ready to play or we’ll get beat,” said Jacobson.
Game one saw the Stingers carry a 3-2 lead into the sixth inning with star pitcher Alex Kechayan on the mound. Unfortunately for Concordia, though, the team decided to take a page out of the Milwaukee Brewers’ book of fielding and defence.
Three Concordia errors in the seventh handed Carleton the lead and eventually the first game of the series.
Much like he did against McGill in the previous round, Marco Masciotra used his bat to propel the Stingers to victory in game two. Masciotra hit a three-run home run in the first inning and added a two-run double in the third to put Concordia up 5-1.
Andre Lagarde was making a rare start on the mound and held the Ravens in check before running into trouble in the fourth inning. With Concordia leading 6-3, Lagarde was replaced by Brandon Berkovits who was able to close out the game, and send the series to a game three rubber match.
In game three, it appeared that no one told Ravens starting pitcher, Charlie Crabb, that his team already had a berth at nationals.
Crabb pitched an inspired game, going the distance, striking out nine and only allowing one hit in the Ravens 4-0 victory.
“I don’t know if it was the cold or what, but I haven’t seen a guy pitch like that in a couple years,” said Schwartz.
Crabb’s impressive performance made game one even more frustrating for the Stingers in retrospect.
“If we win game one the series is ours because we wouldn’t have had to face [Crabb],” said Schwartz.
The Stingers will travel to Moncton, N.B. this weekend to play in the CIBA National Championship. Games begin on Friday. The Stingers last won a national title in 2009.