C/O McMaster sports
With qualification success, the men’s varsity baseball team will head into the OUA championships with quite a dramatic week behind them.
Written October 28th
During the weekend of Oct. 9 to Oct. 10, the Marauders Men’s Baseball team went against the Brock Badgers and the Guelph Gryphons in the Ontario University Athletics qualifiers for the final tournament that took place in Ajax just a week later.
The games in the Oakes Park Stadium did not get off to a great start. In their first game against the Brock Badgers, the Marauders fell to a loss of 4 to 1. Although this was not the perfect start, the qualifiers are based on a round-robin system, hence the Marauders still had a chance of making it to the final tournament.
Shortly after the first game, just about five hours later, the Marauders played against the Guelph Gryphons and had the chance to fix their round robin record, which would give them a chance of being the top seed within the tournament. However, the second game proved to be a very distressing one for all involved.
Midway through the game, in a routine fly ball, two McMaster players accidentally collided at one of the bases, causing severe injuries to both involved. Luckily for them, the coach of the Gryphons is a firefighter, while the cameraman who was present at the game is a paramedic. The coach and cameraman immediately rushed to the scene and helped the ones affected until the ambulance arrived approximately 20 minutes later.
As the ambulance arrived and the players were stretched off the field, the truck got stuck on the muddy field, causing the wheels to spin in place. Although a very troublesome predicament, varsity players from both universities collaborated to try to remove the truck from where it was stuck, making for a very unique moment in varsity history.
It was as if all the rivalries were set aside between the teams. As the Marauders scrambled to push the truck away, the Gryphons rushed to help their rivals out to get the truck moving. Eventually, the truck was freed and the ambulance made its way to the hospital.
This isn’t the first time a dangerous incident has happened during a game between the Gryphons and Marauders. In 2019, a McMaster assistant coach had a heart attack during batting practice, while the same coach for the Gryphons performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the assistant for 25 minutes until the ambulance arrived.
The game ended with a loss for the Marauders, ending at 12 to 0., However, this was not the most distressing part of the day. Ryan Clark, a longtime baseball team veteran, expressed the team’s distress over the events that occurred during the game and how it affected them throughout.
“We were all really shocked by the whole series of events. That was the moment we realized that baseball is second and the health of our teammates [is] the priority. As the game continued, we were still all in shock so we didn’t finish off well,” explained Clark.
After the two consecutive losses, the Marauders had to play the semifinals against the Gryphons again, but this time they had newfound motivation.
“Just before our next game in the semifinals we spoke to each other and called for focus. We knew that we were the best team there and we wanted to prove it. We wanted to play for our players and to win the whole qualifier for them,” said Clark.
This new motivation helped the Marauders significantly.. Just one day after the incident, the Marauders came out on top against the Gryphons, with a 10 to 8 win. This meant that the Marauders made it to the finals of the qualifier, where they were to play against the Brock Badgers.
In the final game against the Badgers, the Marauders did the unthinkable. After losing their first two games, the Marauders beat the Badgers 9 to 4 in the finals of the qualifiers, meaning that they officially qualified for the Ontario University Athletics championships of Oct. 17.
When asked for final thoughts regarding the entire comeback, Clark said he knew this would happen.
“After beating [the Brock Badgers], we proved that we were the best team there. It is something that we knew from the very first moment and to actually finish off the qualifiers in first place, it was a job well done. We are now looking towards the championship in a week where we are confident that we will [again] do well,” explained Clark.
The OUA Men’s Baseball Championship took place on Sunday, Oct. 17 in Ajax Sportsplex and involved four different teams around Ontario battling for first place. McMaster’s first game was against the Carleton Ravens at 11:00 am.