Great pitching and timely offense propelled the Stingers to a spot in the Northern Division Finals
The Concordia Stingers baseball team swept the Carleton Ravens in their playoff best-of-three series on Oct. 15 at Springate Park thanks to solid pitching performances from Sam Belisle-Springer and Dan Connerty.
The Stingers opened the scoring early in the first game. Stingers shortstop Matthew Litwin scored off a ground ball, giving the Stingers an early lead.
The score stayed at 1-0 until the fifth inning, when the Stingers were able to score off of great base-running from centre fielder Roberto Zapata. Zapata’s run gave the team a 2-0 lead.
That was all the run support the Stingers needed for game one, as Belisle-Springer stood his ground defensively, striking out nine batters through six and one-third innings.
The Ravens came close to tying the game in the top of the sixth, when they managed three hits and a run against Belisle-Springer. The pitcher’s confidence, however, didn’t waver.
“Would I have preferred if they [didn’t get those hits]? Of course,” said Belisle-Springer. “But I had confidence enough in my fast ball and my slider today that I felt like I could get out of pretty much any jam.”
Zapata pitched in relief for the last two batters of the seventh inning and closed out the game. Zapata had both the game-winning run and a save.
In the second game of the afternoon, Connerty started for the Stingers. The Ravens had a tough time with him as well, as he allowed only five batters on base over the course of the deciding game.
“That was definitely my best outing of the year,” Connerty said. He shut out the Ravens through five and two thirds innings of play.
“That was the Connerty I knew in 2013,” Stingers manager Howie Schwartz said. “He knew he was on a very short leash, we could not afford to let him get out there and throw [too many walks]. He came out firing.”
Despite Connerty’s performance, game two was not easily won, as the Stingers struggled to generate offense against Carleton’s left-handed pitcher Mike Bannon. Over the course of the first six innings, Concordia got runners into scoring position four times, but failed to convert every time.
Still, with the chance to advance to the Division Finals on the line, the Stingers were confident in their game. “It was just a matter of time until we won that game,” Belisle-Springer said. “There was no way we were going to Ottawa [for a game 3].”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Stingers finally broke the deadlock, as second baseman Mathieu Paquette-Groulx scored from third base off of a wild pitch. The Stingers won game two 1-0 and completed their sweep of the Ravens in back-to-back close games.
Connerty said that the team was comfortable winning by such a close margin as they have been doing so all season.
The Stingers are already preparing themselves for next week’s matchup. Belisle-Springer has no doubt in his mind as to who he’d rather face between the Université de Montréal and McGill who are playing game three of their series on Oct. 17.
“I’d rather beat McGill,” he said.
The Stingers will play next weekend for the Northern Division Championship, and have clinched a spot in the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Association Nationals.