While MLB teams gear up for the postseason, OUA baseball is getting set for opening day. The Brock Badgers men’s baseball team is under a week away from opening day as their 2018 season gets started with a doubleheader at Wilfrid Laurier University on September 8 against the Golden Hawks.
The Badgers finished atop the OUA standings at the completion of the 2017 regular season with a sparkling 13-3 record, but their regular season success failed to translate to postseason play. A first round matchup against the ninth seeded Waterloo Warriors — who needed to win a play-in game to reach the playoffs — ended in a shocking upset and sent the Badgers home earlier than they had planned.
Despite an OUA best 43-9 combined program record from 2015 through 2017, the Badgers have been unable to capture a league crown that has escaped them since they last completed the feat in 2014. Fourth-year pitcher Chase Porter has been along for much of that ride in recent years.
“[It] definitely was not a fun playoff experience for us”, said Porter regarding last seasons run.
But the 2018 season presents an opportunity for the Badgers to bounce back from a disappointing end to the 2017 season and once again challenge for top honours in the OUA.
Porter and the Badgers are not going to dwell on the past, but continue forward with the work that has previously put them in good positions. The team finished third among nine OUA teams in runs scored a season ago, with 102 in 16 games (6.37 per game) and conceded the second fewest runs with just 65 in those 16 games (4.06). As a result, the Badgers had the second best run differential in the OUA at +37, trailing only the Golden Hawks. Entering the 2018 season, Porter looks to himself and the rest of the pitching staff as a big key to maintaining these strong numbers.
“On paper, our depth from a pitching perspective is our strong point heading into the season,” said Porter.
As with all teams in varsity sport, turnover is to be expected year after year. The Badgers are no exception this season, most notably losing a trio of first-team OUA all-stars in Justin Gideon, Matt Legg and Nick Spillman, in addition to second-team OUA all-star Tyler Nakamura. Fortunately for the Badgers, they will retain second-team OUA all-star shortstop Noah Koffman, and from an inside perspective, Porter remains positive about the changes.
“There are some new faces to replace some of the pieces that graduated. As long we buy into our system we should have another good year,” said Porter.
And good years have not simply become a hope or an aspiration for the Badgers baseball program, but more so the expectation. This has become clear as this mentality has been deeply ingrained in the approach of the Badgers players, and it’s now time for the results to translate in meaningful games.
“Our goal is always to be at the top…I see us battling with the other upper tier teams in the league for that same spot”, Porter stated.
Following their double header against Laurier, there will be a quick turn around as they then head to the University of Waterloo to take on the Warriors on Sept. 9. On the following weekend, the Badgers will open up their home schedule on Sept. 15 with a doubleheader against the McMaster Marauders at George Taylor Field in St. Catharines. First pitch for all of the Badgers games this season will be at 12:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
In recent exhibition play, the Badgers defeated Erie Community College 11-1 and also took down the Durham College Lords 6-3.