For the fourth time in five years, the Carleton University men’s baseball team returned to the National diamond, placing third in the tournament.
Despite the unpredictable Fredericton rain and snow over the weekend (Oct. 22-25), the Ravens pulled out two wins to secure a spot in the semifinals, but fell short to the national champions for two years running, the McGill Redmen.
“We played right strategy-wise and we put all of our cards in place, but when it came time we just fell short in the semi-final,” said Carleton head coach Andre Robidoux.
In the regular season and playoffs, the Ravens faced McGill eight times, including their season opening weekend that ended in a back-to-back split: a 12-2 win for Carleton and an 11-1 win for McGill. Game One: In their first game of the Nationals round robin the Ravens fell 9-3 to McGill. Carleton was first on the board after Dom Plaschy grounded a ball to second, allowing Shawn Green to score in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the third, McGill put up a run to tie the game and added six more by the bottom of the fifth.
The Redmen continued their streak of unanswered scores into the bottom of the sixth with a home run that brought in two, ending in a score of 9-1. The Ravens added two in the top of the seventh with Kevin Park scoring and a mishandled hit bringing home Eugenio Matos. The final score was 9-3 for the Redmen.
In their second game the Ravens recorded a 6-5 win against the Saint Mary’s University (SMU) Huskies. Green put the Ravens on the scoreboard in the top of the first and after stealing second, Plaschy also scored, bringing the total to 2-0. SMU scored in the bottom of the first, put up the tying run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the third, scored the go-ahead shortly after and scored twice more in the bottom of the fourth. The Ravens came back in the top of the seventh to reclaim their lead. The game-winning home run came from Will McIntyre, who brought home Green and Ethan Nodwell. The final score was 6-5 for the Ravens.
“There were a little bit of nerves in some of the rookies, but the vets stepped up. Will [McIntyre] pitched all nine to win the game and [Ryan] Burnside came in to close the game for us. That brought the team together,” Robidoux said.
The Ravens hit their best inning of the tournament in their third game, scoring five runs in the first inning and four in the second, leading to a 13-2 victory over the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Cougars.
“Once we got a win in the second game, we got the monkey off of our back and we were in good shape going into the third game. I could tell right off the bat they were going to have a good game just from how well they were practicing,” Robidoux said.
Nodwell and McIntyre scored the first runs and Burnside hit a double to left field that brought home Andrew Goddard. McIntyre struck out the first UNB batter and the Ravens’ defence shut down the Huskies in five plays, bringing the score to 5-0. After allowing two walks in the top of the second, UNB pulled their pitcher, but the Ravens put up four more runs, bringing the score to 9-0. UNB scored two by the bottom of the fourth, but Carleton continued to dominate, with a run in the top of the third and their final three in the top of the sixth. The final score was 13-2 for the Ravens.
“I think we played to the best of our abilities certainly towards the end of the tournament,” said Eric Elliott, starting pitcher for the Ravens and four-year player. “We got better as the tournament went on and that came with how we meshed as a team.”
After recording two wins, the Ravens advanced to the semifinals to face McGill for the second time over the weekend. The team came up short—losing 11-1—but secured third place in the tournament. Robidoux said the weather was cold and unforgiving for the team’s best pitcher, Charlie Crabb, whose go-to throw is a slider, and McGill was able to capitalize.
The Redmen scored one in the first and added seven in the bottom of the third. McGill kept Carleton off the board until the top of the fifth, when Plaschy stole third and scored on an error, bringing the score to 8-1. McGill put up three more runs in the bottom of the sixth to mercy Carleton and bookend the Ravens’ run at a National Championship.
The final score was 11-1 for the Redmen.
Elliott said the semifinal game reflects neither the full ability of the team, nor its success at Nationals.
“The last game doesn’t translate how well we did because we lost to McGill pretty handedly,” Elliott said. “If Charlie [Crabb] had come out the way he wanted to and the way that Matt [Macdonald] finished up, it would have been a closer game.”
Robidoux said the team’s progression from the beginning of the season to the end of Nationals was impressive.
“What really caught us off guard was how well our team hit—we didn’t expect that strength. We relied a lot on our talented hitting so we didn’t have to focus too much on the pitching,” he said.
In September nearly half of the Ravens’ roster were rookies, but following the team’s season and performance at Nationals, Robidoux said he is confident in the large number of first-time players who are returning to the field next year.
“Our new kids are very talented, so I am expecting a lot of good things from these guys,” he said.
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