By Earl Zukerman
The McGill baseball team swept a doubleheader over Carleton on Saturday to capture the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association’s Northern Conference championship at Gary Carter Field in Trudeau Park. They rallied from a late two-run deficit to defeat the Ravens 8-7 in the opener, then took the nightcap 6-3.
McGill advances as one of the top three seeds to the CIBA Nationals in Ottawa, Oct. 19-21, in search of their fourth CIBA title. Carleton also qualifies for the six-team tourney as host team but will be seeded last.
It marked the first conference title since 2006 for the Redmen, who have claimed CIBA championships in 2010, 2006 and 1994 since the team was founded in 1994.
“To win a conference title after starting the season with a 1-4 record, just shows how much hard work and commitment these players have for the program,” said Jason Starr, a former McGill player now in his first year as head coach and field manager of the Redmen. “They never panicked, never stopped working or believing in themselves, and they deserve all the credit in the world for what they have achieved.”
In the first game, McGill overcame a 7-5 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for the winning margin. The key blow was a clutch two-run single to centre by Chris Haddad of Pierrefonds, Que., with two outs and the bases loaded, which cashed in Casey Auerbach of Westmount, Que., from third base and Adam Gordon of Dollard des Ormeaux, Que., who scored the winning run from second.
L.J. Aguinaga, a fifth-year senior who picked up the win in relief of starter Nolan Werre, scattered seven hits over 5.1 innings. The international business student from Dollard des Ormeaux, struck out five and allowed just one earned run. Dan Porter of Coaticook, Que., came on in the seventh to get the final out and collected the save.
In the second half of the twin-bill, designated hitter Josh Gordon, another native of Dollard, went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base. Starting pitcher Elliot Ariganello, an economics sophomore who hails from Etobicoke, Ont., went six strong innings for the victory. He allowed two earned twos, gave up only five hits, struck out five and walked none.
“We played two tough games against a very good ball club and came out with two hard-fought victories,” added Starr. “The amazing part about this team is their never give up attitude. We have come from behind all year long and this weekend was no different. It isn’t just one guy carrying the team, these wins are a complete team effort.
“The CIBA tournament should be fun. Anytime you have the chance to represent McGill at a national championship is exciting,” said Starr. “We have worked all year in preparation for this week, and the guys feel confident about their chances. Now it is all about execution and playing baseball the way we know we can.”