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Concordia stings defending champs in doubleheader

by Julian Mei September 13, 2011
Concordia stings defending champs in doubleheader

Photo by Navneet Pall

If there is one thing any Stinger athlete knows, it’s that the only thing better than a win is a win against McGill.
No wonder, then, the Concordia Stingers baseball team seemed so jubilant after a doubleheader sweep of the Redbirds on Saturday afternoon, after defeating McGill earlier in the week as well. “It’s always special to beat McGill,” said manager Howard Schwartz. “Concordia and McGill have a great rivalry. Sometimes it gets heated but usually it’s just great baseball like it was today.”
After defeating McGill and John Abbott College during the week, the Stingers woke up Saturday morning facing their rivals again, this time in a twin bill. The first game featured marvelous pitching on both sides by Alex Kechayan of Concordia and L.J Aguinaga for McGill. Aguinaga was able to hold the hard hitting Stingers to just three runs, scattered over 5 â…” innings of the seven inning doubleheader. Unfortunately for him, though, Kechayan was simply dominant.
Staked with a three run lead and only one inning left, it was a sort of deja vu from Kechayan’s start last weekend against the Carleton Ravens. Last week, though, Kechayan retired the first two batters before giving up two base runners, being pulled from the game and watching Carleton win in extra innings. This time Kechayan slammed the door shut.
After hitting the first batter of the seventh inning, it would have been easy for the pitcher to panic. Instead he retired the next three batters he faced, securing the complete game win. Kechayan finished with four strikeouts, allowing only two hits and three walks.
“The key was to just stay within myself,” said Kechayan. “No matter what they did, even if they got on base, I just had to keep throwing strikes and throwing my game. The last couple innings I was throwing my change-up and they just kept missing it so I think that was huge.”
Whatever momentum the Stingers had from the first game vanished by the second go around. The team seemed lackadaisical and unfocused. The shouts of encouragement coming from the Stingers dugout, that could be heard in the first game, transformed into banter on a wide range of topics, none involving the game at hand.
Chris Ames’ two-run homer off Stingers’ starter Brandon Berkovits, put McGill up 2-0 in the first inning and after the Redbirds tacked on another two in the third, Schwartz had seen about enough from his team. He gathered the team for a brief meeting outside the dugout between the top and bottom of the third inning. Whatever he was selling, the Stingers bought.
Jamal Gittens proceeded to lead the inning off, with a walk followed by three consecutive hit batsmen, Jason Katz, Marco Masciotra and Mark Nadler. The Stingers got back a run without even taking the bat off their shoulders.
After striking out Andre Lagarde, the nightmare would continue for McGill starter Conrad Hall. Tim Riley singled to left to cash in another run (one of his three RBI for the game), followed by an RBI sacrifice fly by Marc-André Fleury. Concordia would plate the go ahead runs on a two run single by Anthony De Carvalho. It was a lead the Stingers would not relinquish.
When all the damage was done, the Stingers scored five runs, batted around the order and chased Hall from the game.
“He just lost it,” said McGill manager Joe McKenzie. “He lost the plate. Lost his location. He couldn’t get his breaking balls over for strikes so he started relying on his fast ball and (Concordia) just started sitting on it.”
Concordia would continue the scoring off McGill relief pitcher, Elliott Ariganello, adding another run in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth. Pitching with the lead seemed to also calm down Berkovits who would not allow a run the rest of the game.
Berkovits especially showed great poise in the sixth inning. With Concordia leading 8-4, McGill loaded the bases with no outs and were threatening to claw their way back. Berkovits, however, would strike out Luis Argumendes, get Steven Warsh to pop out to first base and close the inning by getting Ames to ground out to the second baseman.
Concordia would win the game 9-4. Though his rallying cry seemed to be more successful than he could have imagined, Schwartz was reluctant afterwards to take credit for the comeback.
“I don’t know how much effect (the meeting) had on the outcome of the game,” said Schwartz. “I just saw in the second half of the doubleheader we weren’t very strong out of the gate. I’m not going to take credit for what happened. I just saw they weren’t focused so I got them focused.”
Team captain Jason Katz on the other hand believed the meeting was instrumental in the win. “We were definitely flat. [Schwartz] saw that and gave us a little pep talk and it got us going.”
The Stingers would go on to split another doubleheader Sunday in Ottawa against Carleton, winning 6-0 before having their six game winning streak snapped with a 7-2 loss.

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