For some players, the bitter pit in their stomach was more than just the feeling of a tough loss to a worthy opponent.
As pitcher Matthew Jacobson, catcher Marshall Johnston, shortstop Marco Masciotra and second baseman Jason Katz watched Durham College make the final out in the CIBA semi-finals, they were also watching the final curtain close on their university baseball careers.
All four players were in their final year of eligibility with the Stingers. For them, there is no “we’ll get ‘em next year.”
“When we were down in the seventh with a couple outs left, it really hit me that it was all over, and I got pretty emotional,” said Jacobson. “Guys congratulated me on the year I’d had, but winning the tournament was what I’d wanted. It was nice to go out on a personal high with the All-Canadian Award as well as a load of memories.”
As captain of the team, Katz tried his hardest to deal with the emotional anvil the best he could before the tournament, as he worried it could affect his on-field performance.
“I tried not to let the fact that it was my last season affect my play, but as the season was coming to an end, it was unavoidable to start putting things into perspective,” he said.
Katz said analyzing everything his team accomplished helped him deal with the fact that his career was drawing to a close. This led to better focus on the field. Unlike his three graduating teammates, though, Katz admitted he will be taking a break from the sport to spend time with his fiancÃ©e and other ambitions.
Masciotra is presently weighing his options to go play professional baseball in Italy. Johnston and Jacobson are hoping to stay involved in the game other ways, whether it be coaching, or playing in competitive adult leagues.
“I will always be a part of baseball. It’s not just a sport, its a way of life,” said Johnston.
“I’ve promised myself I won’t turn to softball until my arm falls off,” added Jacobson.
Even professional athletes have attested to the fact that the most difficult part of leaving a sport is not missing the competition; it’s the loss of camaraderie and being a part of a team.
All four players said their years with Concordia were some of the most fun, and hilarious times they had on a ball diamond.
“A lot of crazy things have happened over the years, but I would have to say our team breaking into song [‘Roses’ by Outkast] in the middle of a game was [most] bizarre,” said Masciotra.
Fortunately for the players, while their time as Stingers is over, the relationships they’ve forged are not.
“I’m from B.C. and when I came here to play baseball I had nobody,” said Johnston. “[Manager Howard Schwartz] became my father away from home. We’d have team meetings that turned into family dinners at his place.”
All four players who are leaving have been involved in an epoch of tremendously successful Stingers baseball, climaxing with a 2009 national championship. It has all helped the program gain much needed notoriety.
“I’m excited to see the program grow,” said Johnston. “Baseball players around Quebec are now wanting to be a part of the program. I’m just disappointed I won’t be here for another four years.”
The memories will last in the four players’ minds forever.
It’s knowing that they won’t be on the field again as a team that hurts the most.