The Concordia Stingers baseball team were in Windsor, Ontario this past weekend for the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association (CIBA) National Championships. Hungry to win the Championship, the Stingers went 2-1 in the Round Robin, earning themselves a spot in the semi-final against the Carleton Ravens. A 5-1 victory put them in the finals, leaving them in a matchup with hometown team the Windsor Lancers.
The game had some serious hype from the very beginning. The game began on-time, shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night in beautiful Amhurstberg, about 30 minutes south of Windsor. The Stingers sent their ace to the hill, Brandon Berkovits. The Stingers’ faithful were very loud and showed as much support as possible. People were getting anxious very quickly, anticipating how this crazy game would end.
The first three innings went by in a flash, spanning no longer than 30 minutes. It was also very exciting as the game went on as Berkovits was dealing a perfect game through five and two-third innings, when he gave up a shallow fly ball to left-fielder Roberto Zapata. Zapata dove, desperately trying to save a perfect game but he came up short and the Lancer hitter settled for a double.
The pitchers of both teams were having the game of their lives and would pitch well into extra innings.
“Berky pitched one hell of a game. He kept us in it the whole way through,” Stingers catcher and third baseman Matthew Adams-Whitaker said after the game. “He was just spot on. We couldn’t ask for anything better from him.”
“Berky threw a gem for us. He’s a stud,” designated hitter Tim Riley said.
“Berky was just unbelievable. He was rock solid for us all year,” Stingers’ rookie relief pitcher Sam Belisle-Springer said. “His slider was unbelievable, matching that [Windsor Pitcher] pitch for pitch. He gave us every chance to win the game and more than that.”
Berkovits threw eight innings of shutout baseball in what he described as “the best game of his life” but it would not be enough. Windsor won the game 1-0 in a nine-inning affair that lasted close to two hours. It’s not that the Stingers had bad luck, but rather that they ran into a star pitcher who was just as good, if not better, than the Stingers’ ace.
“He beat us. We were just overwhelmed with that [pitcher’s] stuff,” said the catcher Jean-Christophe Pacquin. “It’s just too bad that pitcher got the best of us.”
“We faced some great pitching on the other end. Hats off to them,” said former CIBA pitcher of the year, Stingers’ pitcher Alex Kechayan.
He also pointed that the offense deserved some credit too,
“I have to give shout out to Zapata for that dive at first base, also for the effort in left field trying to save the perfect game.”
However, Berkovits kept his head held high after the game, confident in knowing that he had given it his all.
“I pitched my heart out. Movement was perfect. Location was dead on,” Berkovits said, “[The Catcher] Pacquin and I were in sync on the mound.”
Berkovits also applauded his team despite the season coming to an end with a loss,
“I could not be more proud of the team this entire year. I’ve never been more impressed.”
After the game ended, there was no next game to look forward to. This was the end for the 2013 Stingers baseball team. It only left time to reflect on the great season that it was.
“This team’s great. And we’re going to win next year, for sure,” Belisle-Springer said.
“Our team is going to be even better next year. It can’t come soon enough,” said manager Howie Schwartz. “It feels like we won. I don’t even feel angry. I feel great and these guys played their hearts out and I’m so proud of them.”
The Stingers will come back even hungrier next year, expecting nothing but a ring from the National Championships this time next year.