The McGill Redmen (13-3) and the visiting Carleton Ravens (12-4) each won a game in their conference-championship-opening doubleheader on Oct. 13. McGill lost the first game 7-3 after holding the lead for the first six innings, while fifth-year pitcher Rocky Hroch’s five-inning no-hitter led the Redmen to an 11-0 mercy rule victory in game two.
McGill got on the board in the first inning of game one thanks to an errant throw from the Carleton catcher that sailed over the second baseman’s head. In the following inning, third-year outfielder Sasha Lagarde delivered a timely double that brought home two runs to make it 3-0.
A controversial call highlighted the top of the third: Outfielder Jonathan Duforest made a spectacular catch running backwards and then falling over, but the umpire ruled that Duforest had dropped the ball when he fell. McGill’s home crowd did not seem to agree with the umpire, but the call stood, leading to two Carleton runs.
Redmen starting pitcher Sam Greene threw a solid six-inning outing, allowing those two runs and striking out six Ravens. In the seventh inning, fourth-year relief pitcher Henry Dennis replaced Greene and subsequently gave up a three-run homerun that put Carleton up 5-3. The Ravens tacked on two more runs and then shut down the Redmen in the bottom of the seventh.
McGill’s frustration was summed up by Sasha Lagarde’s seventh inning at-bat, from which he was ejected after arguing balls and strikes with the umpire. General Manager Jason Starr, too, was ejected after he came out to defend his player.
Following their initial loss, the Redmen shifted their focus to the importance of the next two games in the series, both of which they must win in order to claim the conference title.
“We’ve got to take the next two games one at a time,” Redmen Head Coach Casey Auerbach said after the first game. “We have to worry about winning the next game first [before worrying about the deciding game three].”
Despite the loss, the team remained optimistic heading into the second game.
“A lot of things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go,” relief pitcher Bobby Finnie said. “But, we are resilient. We’ll fight back. Same thing happened last weekend, and we came out and killed [Universite de Montreal] the second game.”
The Redmen subsequently turned those words into action: They clobbered Carleton with an 11-0 mercy-rule victory.
After Jared Kersh walked with the bases loaded to score a run, Duforest collected two runs batted in with a single to centrefield in the second inning to make it 3-0. Emerson Dohm and Michael O’Toole took back-to-back walks to bring in a run for the Redmen, and Dominic DeFelice singled to score yet another run. McGill put up seven runs in that second inning, giving starter Rocky Hroch a comfortable lead going into the third.
With an 11-0 lead heading into the top of the fifth, Hroch could allow only one run in order to secure the mercy rule victory for the Redmen. The starter went above and beyond, inducing three consecutive groundouts to claim the victory and his second career no-hitter.
The Redmen beat the Ravens 7-4 in Ottawa on Oct. 14 to take the series and claim their fifth consecutive divisional title. Both the Redmen and the Ravens have an automatic berth into the national championship playoffs which begin on Oct. 19.
Moment of the games
Redmen game-two-starter Rocky Hroch forced a groundout to end game two and complete five innings without allowing a hit.
“It’s very possible that we play [Carleton] in the national championships. It happened last year. We played them in the conference final, and then in the national championship. They’re a good ball team. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again.” – Redmen game one starting pitcher Sam Greene
The Redmen walked nine times and collected 16 hits in the two games, contributing to a combined 14 runs scored for the day.