– Kyle Denton, Sports Editor

With a year that consisted of 12 regular season wins, and a Laurier baseball school record, the men’s Laurier baseball team has nothing to be disappointed about.

A program that was only awarded varsity status in 2001 has become a contender in the OUA year after year. After posting a 12-9 regular season record, the squad was eligible for the OUA tournament, placing fourth via a head to head tiebreaker.

They entered the tournament in late October up against the Brock Badgers in the first game. Although leading 4-1, the game and tournament were postponed due to inclement weather.

The tournament was picked up the following weekend, and the team picked up where they left off, dismantling Brock in a 14-4 romp that saw Laurier score 10 runs in the final three innings. They carried this victory into a semi-final appearance against Toronto. Although hard fought, the Golden Hawks came up short, losing 3-2 in 10 innings.

An opportunity to take the lead in the top of the tenth was taken away by a diving catch that ended the inning. In the bottom half Toronto scored the only run they would need to secure a bid in the OUA championship.

The double elimination tournament gave the Golden Hawks one more opportunity, pitting them against Western to decide who would play Toronto in the championship, but the Golden Hawks came out flat and the Mustangs took advantage with an impressive showing, winning 11-2. The Mustangs would move on to the finals, but would ultimately lose to Toronto 8-4, making the Varsity Blues 2011 OUA champions.

“I’m proud of each and every player, coach and trainer in our program as we have a great group of individuals that play the game the right way.” said Head Coach Scott Ballantyne.

When all was said and done, the Laurier Golden Hawks baseball team finished with a 21-12 record, totalling non-conference, regular season and playoff games.

This 21-win total marks the highest the program has ever reached and certainly shows the program is headed in the right direction. Another supplemental point of interest is the hardware some of the players took home at season’s end.

Third baseman Ryan Panas, centre fielder Darnell Duckett and left fielder Jonathon Brouse all made the OUA All-Star team.

Brouse also took home rookie of the year, a feat that has been awarded to a Laurier Golden Hawk the past four years.

With a strong recruitment base and a solid core group, Ballantyne and company believe they are on the right path to make the OUA championships. And the continuous strides the program is making year after year is making that dream seem more like a reality.