It was a busy offseason for the Brock Badgers baseball program, as they lost 11 players from 2018 who either graduated, transferred or signed elsewhere. Among the players lost was the three-headed pitching monster of Alex Nolan (who signed with the Blue Jays organization as an undrafted free agent), 2018 OUA Pitcher of the Year Chase Porter (graduation) and Derek Zwolinski (who signed with the Capital City Reds).
With the top of the rotation now elsewhere, the Badgers brought in multiple new arms, including righties Brandon Underhill and Jager Canjar, as well as lefty Nick Davies, who transferred from Carleton.
“Coming out of training camp, righties Ben Tiw and Underhill have shown to be the most ready to take the reins as aces of the staff,” said head coach Marc LePage. “Also senior lefty Andrew Raponi has come out guns ablazing. Connor Ambrogio and Hayden Stam have firmly planted themselves as key parts of the rotation. We have a few other first and second year guys that have a chance to pitch meaningful innings as the season progresses.”
Along with the revamped pitching staff, the Badgers also had to replace the middle of their infield, as second baseman William Da Costa and 2018 All-Star shortstop Noah Koffman both graduated this spring. The loss of Koffman was a big one, as not only was he named team MVP, but was a big presence in the clubhouse.
“It will be difficult to fill the hole [Koffman] left. However, we brought in several players that will lengthen our lineup and we’re excited to see that they’re off to a great start.”
Among those new players are David Polson and Ashton Feijo, who have formed a nice double-play combo at second and short.
The Badgers opened up their season back on August 29, where they walloped the George Brown Huskies 28-8 to get things started. Sophomore outfielder Connor Humphrey went 5-5 with six RBIs, and two-way player Ryan Bench added a homer and six RBIs of his own. The Badgers bats stayed hot during a pair of games against the Erie Kats of the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association (NJCAA), winning both games 11-3 and 10-7.
“We’re continuing to build on the work we did this winter,” said LePage. “We emphasized the importance of having an approach to each at bat. Our hitters have remained disciplined to that approach and have had competitive at bats.”
The doubleheader against Erie kicked off a seven-game, four-city road trip in New York state, as the Badgers travelled to Buffalo, Syracuse and Niagara Falls to play against U.S. competition, with an upcoming game in Olean this weekend.
The second series of the trip came against Le Moyne College, where the Badgers got swept by the Dolphins, dropping the first game 4-1 and the second 16-5. Brandon Underhill pitched six solid innings in game one, but the offence was only able to tally three hits in the loss. Andrew Raponi gave up eight runs in three innings during game two, leading to a Dolphin blowout.
The final series saw Brock face off against the Niagara County Thunderwolves, with redshirt freshman Connor Ambrogio pitching the best game of his young career, throwing a four-hit, 11 strikeout complete game with no earned runs allowed (one unearned run), leading Brock to a 2-1 win. Game two saw freshman Tyler Stoltz throw two scoreless innings, and an Ashton Feijo home run capped off a five-hit weekend for the shortstop, leading the way to a 9-3 Badger win.
After the final game of this ongoing road trip this weekend against the NCAA Division I
St. Bonaventure Bonnies, the Badgers return home for a doubleheader against Guelph, before heading back out to New York to take on Geneese and Canisius College.