While major league baseball playoffs were causing a stir last weekend, the Varsity Blues and the McMaster Marauders were creating headlines of their own. On Saturday, the two teams played at Ninth Line Park in Mississauga, splitting the double–header and sending the semifinal series to a third and deciding match.
The game was played last Sunday afternoon in Hamilton under clear skies and in front of a boisterous McMaster crowd. Unfortunately for the Blues, their run as OUA champs came to an end after a 2-1 loss to the Marauders in game three.
It was a disastrous end to a season filled with success and celebration for players, coaches and Blues fans. The team finished the regular season tied for first place with Brock, having won 12 of 17 games. U of T pitchers Brian Dikdan and Joe Callaghan had breakout years, winning a combined six games and posting earned run averages of 0.75 and 1.22 respectively.
The two were part of the season-long commitment to strong defence that coach Dan Lang has been stressing to all his players. Sunday’s game was no different. A strong defensive effort by the Blues saw them give up only two runs in the pressure-filled thriller.
Offence was a strong component of the Blues’ arsenal during the regular season, with players such as Steve Correia and Jonathan Benczkowski leading OUA statistics in RBIs and home runs. But alas, the Blues offence went south during the playoffs, where they managed to score only three runs against McMaster. Players and coaches agree this is a problem that must be looked at in the off-season.
Despite the disappointing loss, the Blues can take solace in being among the top four OUA teams this season. Three players from U of T have been selected for the 2002 OUA all-star team: catcher James Rutherford, outfielder Ethan Manes and pitcher Angus Roy.
The young Blues team will get most of their players back next year, and hope to add new faces to the roster come next September, when they will try to recapture intercollegiate baseball’s glory.