The Brock Baseball team played their final home games of the season on Sunday. A day which marked the last time that some of these Badgers would play a home game for the team. The Badgers faced off against the Ryerson Rams, who came into the meeting with a 5-9 record. The Badgers meanwhile, were 9-3 on the season and a perfect 6-0 at home.
In game one, both teams had excellent pitching to start the day. After four scoreless innings, play began to pick up in the fifth. With two runners in scoring position and nobody out, the Rams’ Quinn Cumming hit a sacrifice fly to score the runner from third base. However, that’s all that Ryerson was able to do that inning, as pitcher Derek Zwolinski was able to force Ryerson batters into two ground balls to end the inning.
The Badgers answered back in the sixth inning. It began with Noah Koffman hitting a single to start off the inning, and then Matthew Legg hit a single of his own to tie the game, as Koffman was able to score on the play. After a couple fly balls resulted in two outs for the Badgers, Blake Stepien hit a ball to the outfield that seemed to be an easy out. However, it was dropped, allowing Stepien to reach base on the error as another run scored for the Badgers.
Both teams scored runs in the seventh, with the Rams scoring two to take a 3-2 lead in the top of the inning, before Matthew Legg hit another single for his second run batted in that game. The score would remain 3-3 into the ninth inning. Zwolinski was replaced by Jake Near on the mound, who did his job perfectly and was able to induce a double play to end the inning. Zwolinski finished the game giving up three hits and one earned run, while striking out six batters through eight innings. The Badgers then found themselves in a very familiar situation: a chance for a walk-off win to end the game. Brock already had walk-off wins against Toronto, McMaster and Laurier this year, which just goes to show how the team is able to come up big in important situations.
After Koffman hit a single to lead off the inning, Legg hit a comebacker off of the pitcher which bounced into the outfield, allowing Koffman to reach third base. Justin Gideon then hit a ground ball, but the throw to first base was off, allowing Koffman to score from third and give the Badgers their fourth walk-off victory of the season, and a 4-3 decision in their first game of the day. Legg led the Badgers with three hits, but four other Badgers had two hits each in the game.
Game two saw Andrew Raponi on the mound for the Badgers. Brock was able to capitalize on some early errors made by the Rams and jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the bottom of the first inning. The Badgers would score another run in the third inning, after Gideon hit a triple to start the inning, and was then able to reach home on a ground ball hit by Matt Pigat.
The Rams answered back with two runs of their own in the fourth inning, which was when Raponi had his game come to an end and was replaced on the hill by Nick Subramaniam. Raponi finished the game with five hits and two earned runs through 3.2 innings. Brock would take a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning before adding another three runs to make it a 7-2 game. Ryerson tried to make a comeback in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough. They could only muster up one run, as the Badgers took game two by a score of 7-3.
Subramaniam was excellent in relief, allowing just one hit while giving up no earned runs over 3.1 innings of play. Noah Koffman, Matt Pigat, and Tyler Nakamura each had one run batted in, while the rest of the Badgers runs were scored on errors made by the Rams.
The two wins on Sunday put the Badgers at the top of the OUA standings with an 11-3 record, including an impressive 8-0 at home this season.
While the Badgers were happy to get the wins, it was a bittersweet day for the seniors who played their last home game as a Badger, including two-time OUA Most Valuable Hitter Justin Gideon.
“It’s surreal, this has been a big part of my life and it’s sad that we’re done soon,” said Gideon. “But we know that we can still do special things this year, and that’s the way I want my time on this team to come to an end.”
When asked about how he sees the rest of the season playing out, Gideon was hopeful that his last season at Brock would have a perfect ending.
“It would mean so much to end this season with a championship, we’ve had some really great teams over the last few years, but I think this year could be the best yet.”
The Badgers have two more games this season, as they travel to the University of Guelph next weekend to face the Gryphons, before their playoff tournament begins at the end of Reading Week.