The crowd at Gary Carter Field Thursday left happy thanks to late-game heroics, as the McGill Redmen (14-4) baseball team topped the Concordia Stingers (10-7) 3-2 in the annual fan night game. The win was McGill’s 12th of the season, and its third walk-off win in four games.
The team was led by junior shortstop Tyler Welence, who collected three hits, including a single in the seventh-inning that plated the winning run. Welence has been outstanding so far this season, and has been a mainstay at the batting order. McGill’s pitching also had a strong showing, as starter Adrien Petrangelo and relievers Landen Moore and Tim Jones combined to allow just a single earned run over seven innings.
“Coming into the game in that kind of situation, I’m not trying to do too much,” Moore said, who provided 1.2 innings of relief pitching. “All I’m thinking about is getting ahead of their hitters early in counts and throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes.”
In total, Redmen pitchers threw first-pitch strikes to 60 per cent of the hitters that they faced—slightly better than their Concordia counterpart, who did so 55 per cent of the time. The defence behind McGill’s pitching was also strong, turning three double plays and making just one error, which was charged to Petrangelo.
“I think this is a big win for us for a lot of different reasons,” Head Coach Jason Starr said. “You always want to play well at the end of the year […] and these are the types of games we’re going to need to win if we want to win a national championship.”
The game was the 16th of the season, which in past years would have capped things off. But in the brand-new Canadian Collegiate Baseball Association (CCBA), regular season play has been extended to 20 games. The busier schedule, however, may actually work in McGill’s favour, as this is their deepest roster in years, and one that is clearly capable of grinding out tough games.
“We’re fighters,” Welence said. “We’ve got a really deep team and it shows. [We] bring in relievers that throw lights-out and I don’t think other teams have that kind of flexibility. Everyone comes ready to play.”
That depth was on display as McGill rallied to win in walk-off fashion. Third-year James Vardy led-off the inning with a single and was lifted for a pinch runner—rookie second baseman Max Rosen. Jones and junior left fielder Alexander Levis then both reached safely to load the bases, setting the stage for Welence’s game-ending single.
“It was really a team effort,” Starr said. “One through nine, three pitchers, pinch runners—everyone really did a good job tonight.”
McGill is playing host to this year’s CCBA National Championship, which guarantees them a spot in the tournament. If they continue to perform this way, they may not need to make use of this crutch. Coach Starr made it clear that they have no intention of limping into Nationals.
“Our strategy is to keep on improving during the season,” he said. “We want to play our best baseball [at Nationals], but we also want to win the regular season, and we want to win [our] conference.”
The Redmen reached one of those goals over the weekend, as they clinched first place with two wins against Carleton (8-10). McGill has one game left to play, against Ottawa(3-14), and even though it won’t affect the standings, they’ll be looking to enter the playoffs on a high note.
“I’d love to go into [Nationals] with everyone gunning for us,” Starr said. “As a coach you want to go in playing well and you don’t want to go in the backdoor.”