The Concordia Stingers baseball team led off the final week of the season with a bang, beating the last-place John Abbott Islanders easily in a 14-0 mercy after five innings of play last Tuesday. They continued their hot streak, scoring three wins out of four.
Game recap for Tuesday, Sept. 24.
“We need more players – nine players going against 25 just doesn’t work,” said John Abbott catcher Matthew Palaic. “Our problem all year has been commitment.”
Although the Islanders had two players in scoring position to lead off the first inning, they couldn’t capitalize.
“It was just a timing issue. I found that my leg lift and my arm speed were just a little bit off,” said Stingers rookie pitcher Dan Connerty, talking about his first inning issues.
He pitched a five-inning complete game shutout and settled in nicely after his rough start.
Game recap for Game 1 on Saturday, Sept. 28.
The Stingers definitely had enough confidence going into Saturday’s doubleheader against the Université de Montréal Carabins, but there was one thing both players and coaches agreed would be the main issue.
“It’s mostly focus. We just have to keep focus and keep doing what we do,” said Sam Belisle-Springer, who finished the game going 0 for 2, with a walk, run and a stolen base.
“I need these guys to keep focus and get ready for the playoffs,” said manager Howie Schwartz after Tuesday’s mercy-victory. “I thought we lapsed [our focus] a couple of times during the game, and it’s hard. It’s going to come down
to how much we are mentally ready.”
Both would prove to be right, as Concordia fell behind early in the game. It was a fine pitcher’s duel early on. The Stingers then suffered an unlucky bounce when it was bases loaded and two outs and a routine groundball was hit to third base, but skipped up and over into left field. What should have been an inning-ending groundout turned out to plate two runs on the play giving the Carabins a 2-0 lead. The Stingers would score only two runs in the game and drop the game 3-2.
“We were trying to do too much at the plate,” said designated hitter Dustin White. “We have clutch guys who’ve been clutch all year and today they were just hitting pop flies and grounding out, but today it wasn’t their day. People slump, and it happens but hopefully come playoff time, [we’ll] be back to where [we’re] at.”
Game recap for Game 2 on Saturday, Sept. 28.
The second game was a different story. Unlike the first game, which was close the entire way through, the Carabins took a commanding 4-0 lead. They scored a run in each of the first three innings as well as a run in the fifth inning when it looked like the Carabins were going to sweep Concordia on their own turf. It seemed like the Stingers had given up hope, but it turns out a costly error would awaken their spirits.
“These guys had been quiet most of the game and, all of a sudden, the other team makes an error and we have life again,” said Ron Snell, assistant coach for the Stingers. “They gave us an inch, and we ran with it. This team isn’t going to lose many games when you give us the opportunity. You make a mistake, we’re ggoing to hurt you.”
Throughout the majority of both games, the Stingers struggled with bunting, failing to advance the runner on many occasions.
“We weren’t ourselves today. We didn’t have the same energy level and just guys trying to get something going,” Belisle-Springer said. “We pulled through in the second game today but we can’t play like this in the playoffs.”
“It’s just something that needs to be practiced. It’s a job that needs to be done,” said Snell. “But in the end, it’s not the end of the world.”
This costly error would prove to spark the Stingers and propel them to victory, coming from behind to win the game 5-4.
“Good teams find a way to win,” said White. “We knew it wasn’t our best ball but hopefully we’re gonna come back tomorrow and win both games.”
“Sometimes, the baseball gods just kinda shine down on you,” Connerty said. “That error in the fifth inning just signalled everything. Everyone got their energy back which we lost early on. Something as small and minor as that can make a big difference in the game.”
Manager Schwartz was the first to mention his team’s overall performance.
“Make no mistake about it; we did not deserve to win this game,” he said. “We were flat.”
However, he made it clear it had nothing to do with any sort of lack in ability, “This team is incredibly talented, we just didn’t execute.”
They finished the regular season atop the standings and will play the fourth place team in a best of three series next Saturday at noon at Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Park in Cote-St-Luc. As long as the Stingers win that series, they will compete against other Canadian universities in the Canadian Baseball Intercollegiate Association’s national championships in Windsor, Ont. which will take place on the third weekend in October.