Redmen Baseball’s season ended with a bang—or, more specifically, the crack of Chris Stanford’s bat as he sent a pitch over the left field fence at Ahuntsic Park to claim McGill’s third straight national championship Sunday evening.
McGill (15–1) opened the day with a semifinal victory against Saint Mary’s University (9–10), in which they showed no mercy. Although the Redmen led 17–0 after five innings, the mercy rule was not taken into effect, and they added four runs in the top of the seventh to win 21–0 and advance to the finals. In a game where eight starting players had hits, leadoff man Sam Groleau and catcher Chris Stanford stood out. Groleau went 5-for-7 at the plate, scoring three runs and driving in four. Stanford went 4-for-5 and drove in five.
Starting pitcher Rocky Hroch dominated, allowing two hits over four innings, and reliever Benji Kaiserman finished the job with three innings of no-hit ball.
While the semifinal game gave fans and players a chance to relax, the finals did exactly the opposite, remaining in the balance until the very last moment.
The Université de Montréal (5–11) struck early in the first, scoring one and threatening to do more damage. Third baseman Gabe Hamilton turned a spectacular double play, tagging the runner—who had been attempting to steal—and throwing to first in time for the out, ending the inning and limiting the damage.
McGill was scoreless until the fourth, when Montreal’s Simon Brisebois opened the inning by hitting DH Emerson Dohm and walking Hamilton. He then gave up a pair of singles and the lead to first baseman Sebastiano Scalzo and centre fielder Alex Levis, who drove in a run each.
The Carabins gave the Redmen little time to enjoy the lead, tying the game on a two-out single in the fifth.
Hroch came in to pitch two scoreless relief innings, despite a runner reaching a scoring position in each.
With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh, Groleau led off with a double. The crowd was quickly quieted when Groleau was nabbed on a double play.
Stanford reversed the mood one more time with a solo walk-off shot to left field. The Redmen rushed onto the field, celebrating their third straight national championship.
“After that double play that they turned in the late inning there, that just kind of broke our momentum,” tournament MVP Stanford said. “So I just stayed composed and made it ready to rock and roll, and I just saw that high fastball and I just put the barrel in front of it and crushed it over the fence.”
Quotable: “I can’t put it into words. Honestly. Every [championship is] special. Every one individually is special,” said Head Coach Jason Starr. “But to do this, to do three in a row, to represent McGill is just a great feeling. I feel like the team’s done a great job all year to bring honour to the school and to the program. It’s just a great way to finish it off. A lot of hard work culminates in this and that’s the most impressive part about it.”
Stat of the tournament: Stanford led the tournament in batting average and RBIs, hitting .500 (8-for-16) and driving in ten.
Moment of the Series:
With one out and runners on first and second for Montreal in the top of the first, Gabe Hamilton spectacularly fielded Montreal pitcher Simon Brisebois’s hard ground ball, tagging the runner out and throwing to first in time for the double play. Hamilton’s play ended the inning, and limited the damage to one run.