A rough start for McGill quickly turned into a blow out as the Redmen (15-1) swept the rival Concordia Stingers (9-7) in the CCBA Northern Conference Finals on Monday night at Gary Carter Field. The Redmen fought back from a 6–0 deficit to win game one 11–7, and mercied the Stingers 11–0 in the second game.
The Stingers strung together a six-run first inning, but the Redmen’s bats came alive in the third. The Redmen came within striking distance with a five-run rally that began with catcher Chris Stanford’s one-out two-run single to right field.
McGill pulled ahead in the bottom of the fourth on third baseman Sam Groleau’s two-run home run to left field.
“That felt great,” Groleau said. “The pitch before, I was a little early, hit a far foul ball, but I adjusted and got a good piece of it.”
Relievers Jack Pantalena, Eric Broatch, and Benji Kaiserman combined to hold Concordia to one run on two hits over four innings. Pantalena—who threw two shutout innings, allowed no hits and walked three—got the win.
The Redmen struck early in the second game. Leadoff man Sasha Lagarde reached first on an error, Groleau was hit by a pitch for the second time that night, and Stanford singled in a run to spark a four run rally. A three-run second inning chased Concordia starter Dan Connerty from the game.
Concordia’s relievers could not contain the Redmen either, giving up three runs in the third and another in the fourth.
Rookie Bryan Corona was dominant on the mound, allowing one hit and walking one over four innings.
The Redmen entered the fifth leading 11–0, poised to mercy the Stingers and go home early. Reliever Harrison Hart added some tension to the game, walking the first three batters he faced to load the bases, but struck out the next three to bring the conference championship home for the second year in a row.
The Redmen are looking ahead to the national championship. They won the national title in 2014 and 2015, and will look for a three-peat this weekend.
“We’re confident, but […] we can’t just assume anything,” Head Coach Jason Starr said. “We’re pretty prepared, and we have one more day of preparation. It’s up to the guys. I have a lot of faith in them.”
Nationals begun on Thursday where the Redmen took two of three against Saint Mary’s University to lift them to another CCBA National Championship on Sunday.
Quotable: “The guys never thought it was over, and they were not going to let Rocky [Hroch] lose after one bad inning, really his only one all year. They chipped away at it [the lead], and swung the bat well. It was encouraging.” – Head Coach Jason Starr
Stat of the series: Catcher Chris Stanford recorded 7 RBI over the two games.
Moment of the series: In the top of the sixth inning in the first game, Concordia scored one and loaded the bases with one out. Reliever Benji Kaiserman entered the game with McGill leading 11–7 and a Concordia rally threatening. Stinger’s left-fielder Dan Paklarian hit a sharp line drive to shortstop Louis-Xavier Labrosse, who threw to second baseman Sam Savoie for the double play to escape the jam.