After a slow start to the campaign, the McMaster men’s baseball teams is showing signs of rounding into mid-season form just as the games start to mean more. A 2-2 week brings their record to 3-8, so it may be too little too late, but with their remaining schedule featuring a tour through the pack contending for the final playoff spots, the Marauders will have ample opportunity to play spoiler.
Mac started the week with a Sept. 17 9-6 win over the Ryerson Rams in a game not for the baseball puritan. Errors and sloppy defense abounded, and in the end it was a decided McMaster advantage in base-running that won the day. Down 5-0 in the bottom of the third, things were looking rather bleak for the Maroon until Brandon DaSilva shocked a sleepy Ryerson defense, scoring McMaster’s first run by stealing home. While that was the Mac’s only run of the inning, it was the spark they needed.
Relief pitcher Curtis Lee would work himself in and out of a major jam in the fourth. After a single, an error and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, he struck out the Ryerson batter. For a brief anxious moment, the ball got away from catcher Travis Gibson, but he would recover to record the drop ball third strike force-out at home. The score would remain unchanged until the bottom of the sixth, when Jake Chiaravalle knocked a single into centre field, scoring Travis Flint from third to narrow the lead to 5-2.
The Maroon recorded a three-up three-down seventh inning on the strength of two Kyle Angelow strikeouts. Then, in the bottom of the inning, it all fell apart for Ryerson. Three consecutive errors plated three McMaster runs before a Chiaravalle double put McMaster ahead for good, scoring Flint and Mike Campagnolo. Ryerson would score a final run in the eighth, before the Marauders put up two more runs to close out the scoring. The teams each recorded five errors, while McMaster put up ten stolen bases, led by Chiaravalle’s four swiped bags, to Ryerson’s one.
Sept. 18 would not be so kind to the Maroon, as they dropped a 7-4 decision to Western. While it looked like they may have had something going in the ninth with a three run rally, in the end they waited too long to turn up the offense.
Sept. 22 brought the same Western squad to McMaster home turf for a doubleheader, the first game of which may have been Mac’s best all year. Pitchers Chris Novachis and Keith Woodcock combined to allow a single run, just missing the no-no, and smart, all-around offensive play by the whole team led to a 5-2 win.
The Marauders looked poised to repeat in the second game of the set, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead. But the Mustangs were determined not to drop two in a row. A strong fifth inning gave them all the run support they needed to split the series with a 6-2 win. Angelow pitched all seven innings for Mac, giving up 2 earned runs on 8 hits. Rookie Evan Landry went 3-3 with a double in his second OUA game.
Next up for the Maroon is their toughest week of the season. Tuesday night they pay a visit to Waterloo to play the second place Warriors, followed by three game home-and-home series with the league leading Laurier Golden Hawks on Sept. 26 and Sept. 28. The middling U of T Varsity Blues visit Bernie Arbour on Sept. 29 to round out the weekly schedule, in what will likely be McMaster’s first chance to do serious damage to an opponent’s playoff aspirations.