Walk-off win gives Badgers Seniors Day sweep

Photo by Tyler Hilton on Unsplash

Saturday, Oct. 1 was “senior day” for the Brock Badgers baseball team. As their last home game of the season, and the last home game ever for seniors, the Badgers looked to wrap things up at George Taylor field in a big way.

The season has gone by impressively thus far. Brock entered their double-header matchup with the York University Lions with a 7-3 record and riding a three-game win streak. They got the best of Western University in both of their matches on Sept. 24 and poured it on offensively against Laurier the week earlier with an 18-5 win. York was the bottom ranked team in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference after week three.

Brock’s afternoon didn’t get off to quite the start they wanted. York got on the board early, scoring two runs in the second inning. Trying to spread the pitchers around for Senior Day, pitcher Matthew Foster was relieved by Brandon Underhill later that inning.

Underhill had a great outing, putting up three scoreless innings. Catcher Peter Valla would help keep it that way in the fifth, when a wild throw went over first in trying to turn a double play. Valla hustled to pick up the ball in front of the Badgers dugout and wired a throw to get the runner out at second. Valla would also add a base hit later that inning.

The game would remain scoreless until late. Griffin Whitehorn took over the mound in the sixth, starting out strong on a four-pitch strikeout with York swinging and missing on all three. Whitehorn kept it scoreless for the remainder of his time in the game.

Pitcher Cam Gillis came in in the top of the 7th looking to continue a strong run by Brock’s pitching staff. The first York batter went down on a three-pitch strikeout. After forcing a line out to deep right, Gillis struck out the final York batter of the inning swinging. Gillis was animated coming off the mound, showing a lot of energy in a turning point of the game.

The Badger’s offence seemed to feed off that energy too. First baseman Cole Carpenter got them on a roll, smacking a well-hit ball through the gap for a double. Outfielder Ashton Feijo followed it up with a double of his own the next at bat. With two runners in scoring position, York threw a wild pitch, advancing a runner to score. One run ball game. Outfielder Bryn Sanford hit one right through the third baseman’s glove that at bat, knotting the game at two.

With no outs, Valla stepped into the batter’s box again. Valla got into a 1-2 count early but showed great composure in battling away five straight foul balls. Valla stared down the next three balls, putting another runner in scoring position with still no outs. York’s pitcher would leave the game despite a strong showing.

Brock bunted to advance both runners into scoring position. A shallow pop-out would give Sanford a chance to take home, but the throw in time ended the inning still tied.

In the eighth, a shallow single and a stolen base got York in striking distance early, but a pop-out, a line-out and a bad takeoff by the runner led to three quick outs.

Brock had another chance to get on the board early in the eighth. Daniel Howat walked, and Brady Campbell, who came in to pinch run for Howat, advanced to third on a longball by Tyler Giancos that was dropped by the warning track. However, Brock’s winning bid was cut short after two hits in the infield were collected to get runners out at home and first.

Justin Mombourquette would relieve Gillis in the ninth, continuing the Badger’s excellent pitching run. Second baseman David Polson made an athletic play to grab a liner, immediately followed by an equally impressive diving catch by Noah Polesky. Mombourquette picked up a short hit to the mound and made a calm throw first, ending another tied inning.

With one out, Valla made short work of his at bat with a first pitch single. Polson singled through the gap right after and the failed attempt to get Valla out at third also allowed Polson to get to second. York intentionally walked to load the bases for Brock. Shortstop Reid Lunney – last week’s Brock athlete of the week – made no mistake; Lunney hit a single over second base, walking it off for the Badger’s on their first game of Seniors Day.

After a short break, the Badgers resumed their series with York at 3:45 p.m. Lefty Hayden Stam would take up the starter’s mantle. In between the announcements paying tribute to his fellow seniors over the loudspeaker, Stam carved up York with two hitless innings and two K’s.

Valla also continued his run as the Badger’s MVP with a solid hit that the second baseman couldn’t get a handle on. Two more hits by Ben Grant and Cole Carpenter would score Valla for a first inning lead.

Stam allowed only one hit in the third and otherwise kept up his impressive pitching performance.

York would tie it up at one on a sacrifice fly in the fourth, a score that held until the bottom of the sixth. A four-run inning put Brock up 5-1 and they wouldn’t look back, capping off a sweep of York in front of a big home crowd.

Brock’s next two games were a double-header on Sunday, Oct. 2. They were two big games for the Badgers, not just because they are their last two games before their OUA regional qualifier, but also as they were facing likely the best team in the OUA in Guelph. Guelph boasts a 12-4 record on the season, including their most recent 11 game stretch, where they have gone 10-1 and scored a combined 93 runs. 

Guelph would test Brock early. Though Brock’s bats came alive, they would ultimately fall 17-14 in a four hour battle against the conference’s top offence. The long and difficult first match, along with the two others earlier in the weekend, seemed to have exhausted Brock. The Badger’s baseball season came to a close in a frustrating 10-0 loss, finishing their season with a 9-5 record.

For future games, you can find the Brock baseball schedule on the GoBadgers website.  

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