The Wilfrid Laurier men’s baseball team is well on their way to having a successful season this fall.
The Golden Hawks are consistently one of the top teams in the OUA, including their championship victory two years ago. Just last fall, the team finished a fantastic season with a 14-4 record, landing them in third place. This year the team is predicted to go far yet again.
Laurier entered their first regular season game having gone undefeated in seven preseason games, playing a mix of universities and colleges. Their preseason included a series of three games against the defending OCAA champion St. Clair College.
“We had a very productive preseason, as we played some really strong teams and managed to find ways to win the games,” said Laurier’s head coach, Scott Ballantyne. “Our pitching was excellent and we got our freshmen players exposure to the level of competition they would see in conference games.”
Laurier has twelve rookies coming onto the team this year, and some of them will receive a chance to contribute on the field right away during the regular season. Returning players Jonathan Brouse, Jeff Hunt, Alex Kupchak and Adam Raithby will play larger roles in carrying the team offensively. They will be accompanied by an experienced starting rotation, led by pitchers Jordan Petruska, Andrew Ziedins and Adam McBride.
Laurier opened their OUA season with a double-header against the Queen’s Gaels on Saturday, September 12 at Bechtel Park in Waterloo. Unfortunately, the Gaels were coming out of a preseason almost as strong as the Golden Hawks, having already won a tournament. Fans were surprised when Laurier’s first game resulted in a 5-3 loss, but the team knew they could do better.
“They were disappointed,” Ballantyne recalled, two days after the loss, “but they knew that we didn’t play our best. We had plenty of opportunities to score runs and stranded a lot of runners on base. We didn’t get the breaks that we had been getting in the preseason and Queen’s capitalized on our mistakes.”
Although the team lost their opening game, they didn’t lose their confidence. Pitcher Andrew Ziedins, a fifth year starter, shut down Queen’s over seven innings on route to a complete game shutout, earning Laurier Athlete of the Week honors along the way. A few hits here and there slowly generated some runs, and the Golden Hawks pulled out a 4-0 victory in their second game against the Gaels.
The following Wednesday, the Golden Hawks came through with yet another win by a score of 9-1 against the University of Toronto in a friendly non-conference game at Bechtel Park.
Ballantyne is pleased with the way the team is shaping and sees more success in games ahead. “If we play up to our potential, continue to get better each day and work together, I think we’ll be in the mix for a championship just like we have been the last four or five years.”
Laurier continued their strong play during their doubleheader against Ryerson on Sunday, September 20. Laurier won the first game 15-5, and extended their winning streak to three games with a 10-3 win in the second game.
Laurier’s next regular season action is a doubleheader at Brock on Saturday, September 26.