The Concordia Stingers baseball team displayed plenty of heart and grit against the Carleton Ravens on Saturday with an easy first win and an impressive and motivating from-behind victory in game two that showed their right to move on to the League Championship.
Game 1 recap
Stingers pitcher, Jonathan Raftus, gave an incredible performance right out of the gate, pitching a no-hitter heading into the top of the seventh.
“It was one of my best performances of the year, probably of my life actually,” Raftus said. “Hopefully I can carry the same performance [into] the nationals.”
The first five and a half innings were especially quick and low scoring and the Stingers were lucky enough to have a 1-0 lead thanks to the base running credentials of Sam Belisle-Springer.
“They were sleeping, we jumped on them, they threw it away, got surprised, and threw it away,” said Belisle-Springer.
He would come around to score on a wild pitch on the throw to third base. The Stingers opened the floodgates in the sixth inning, scoring three runs to give them a comfortable 4-0 lead heading into the seventh inning.
“After they got their base hit, it kind of wore me down a little,” said Raftus. “I knew we just had to get the final three outs, and I knew we just had to get the win.”
The Stingers would allow the potential tying run to come to the plate, but that would be all as they won the game 4-1.
Game 2 Recap
The Stingers didn’t let the Game 1 win get to their heads, as they came out firing in the bottom of the first inning. They scored a couple of runs as the first three men gave the Stingers a bases-loaded, no-out situation. The runs were manufactured off a groundout to first base by the catcher Jean Christophe-Paquin and a sacrifice fly to left-center field from Tim Riley.
The Stingers early 2-0 lead on the Carleton Ravens was short-lived. The starting pitcher Roberto Zapata would surrender four runs in the inning to give the Ravens a 4-2 lead by the top of the second inning, a lead that only increased in the fourth when the Ravens added another pair off a solid two-run single, taking it to 6-2.
At this point Stingers manager Howie Schwartz replaced Zapata with right hard-throwing rookie pitcher, Dan Connerty, who threw nearly three innings of shutout baseball which allowed the Stingers to climb back into the game.
“It was a hell of an effort and I was just trying to keep our team in the game,” said Connerty afterwards.
The bottom of the fourth inning saw the Stingers rally and score four runs and tie the game at six after what should have been an inning-ending flyout in left centre field turned costly error that allowed three runs to score and send Andre Lagarde to third base. Second baseman Anthony Marandola’s hit would drive Lagarde in to tie the game.
While Raftus would go on to have an impeccable game at the plate, getting on base in each of his four at bats, Lagarde would once again come through with a clutch sacrifice fly to give the Stingers the lead. He then came in as the close-out in relief for Connerty and secured the victory.
“I don’t understand how you can come back in a playoff game where you’re just so out of it and flat,” said Schwartz. “They really convinced me they can do anything they want to at any time.”
Concordia will bring its squad to Windsor next weekend as they play in the Intercollegiate National Baseball Championships.