A packed Arnold Anderson Stadium wasn’t enough to propel the Laurier Golden Hawks baseball team over Guelph this past weekend as the Gryphons stole both games in a doubleheader.
A part of Laurier Brantford’s annual Homecoming festivities, hundreds of fans dressed in Laurier purple and gold to take in the contest. Father of Brantford, Walter Gretzky, was present and threw out the ceremonial first pitch, while Laurier president Max Blouw addressed the crowd.
The first game got off to a rocky start, as shaky pitching by Jordan Petruska led Guelph to a big lead in the third. Already up a run, the Gryphons loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third.
The Gryphons picked up a second run as Petruska hit Anthony Interisano, and then Josh Kennedy hit an infield single to move the lead to 3-0. The Gryphons went on to score two more in the winning, and mount a large early lead.
Laurier started to answer in the bottom half of the inning, as back-to-back walks loaded the bases with one out. Darnell Ducket followed that up with a two-RBI double, and the Hawks looked to be in a good spot.
On the double, however, Ducket rounded second and went to third, not realizing that Jonathan Brouse had held at third. Guelph was able to tag both runners amid the confusion at third, and the threat ended for Laurier.
Down 8-3 in the bottom of the seventh, and final, inning, Laurier put two men in scoring position with just one out. A balk brought one man home, and a sacrifice fly to centerfield brought the Golden Hawks to within three. Guelph clamped down then, however, and finished with an 8-5 win.
Following a break between games which included a homerun derby for Laurier Brantford students and staff, the two teams got back to action.
It was a pitcher’s battle through and through, with Laurier taking the lead early off a RBI by Ducket which plated Tino Silvestri. Guelph answered back the following inning, however, and the two teams remained deadlocked.
Guelph’s Kennedy broke the tie in the top of the seventh with a solo homerun over the high left-field wall, and Laurier was held in check in the bottom, to give Guelph their second win on the day.
Following the game, Greg Stewart, Laurier Brantford’s Director of Athletics, Greg Stewart said he was happy with the fan base.
“It’s hard to gauge an exact number, but the stands looked full, and the beer tent looked full, so I’m happy with the turnout,” Stewart said.
When asked about the possibility of baseball becoming the new face of Laurier Brantford’s homecoming, Stewart said that anything is possible.
“We don’t have a defined homecoming plan, so each year could be something different,” Stewart said. “There are some baseball fans here, but I think next year we might go back to hockey, as the arena’s a bit closer to campus and we’ve seen success with it.”
Meanwhile, Golden Hawks manager Scott Ballantyne thanked the Brantford crowd.
“We’d like to thank the students and staff of the Laurier Brantford campus for hosting such a great event on Saturday,” Ballantyne told Laurier Athletics. “The crowd was great and made for a fantastic atmosphere. We’re just disappointed that we couldn’t bring home a win for the home crowd.”