Disappointment Doubled

Stingers Lose National Championship for Second Consecutive Year

  • The ConU Stingers baseball team were undefeated throughout the CCBA Nationals tournament heading into the championship final vs. McGill, including an 8-1 win over the Saint Mary’s Huskies, but ultimately lost in the final 6-1. Photo Shaun Michaud

  • The ConU Stingers baseball team were undefeated throughout the CCBA Nationals tournament heading into the championship final vs. McGill, including an 8-1 win over the Saint Mary’s Huskies, but ultimately lost in the final 6-1. Photo Shaun Michaud

It turns out that the highlight of beating McGill in the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Association’s North Division final last weekend was the peak of Concordia’s baseball season—it could only go downhill from there.

Unfortunately for the Stingers, that’s exactly what happened.

Facing the Redmen in this past Sunday’s CCBA title game, the Stingers lost 6-1 to their archrival.

“We’re frustrated,” said Stingers manager Howie Schwartz after the loss.

“We wanted it and we didn’t get it, but I don’t think we played well enough to get it today.”

The Stingers have now lost back-to-back national championship games, having lost to the Windsor Lancers last year.

“Last year I didn’t really see it as a loss because we really, really, played well,” said fifth-year first baseman Jean-Christophe Paquin, who was named the best hitter of
this year’s CCBA tournament. “We were in it all nine innings so it was just a good game, and here we just didn’t play as well as we should have and we lost.

“I came back [to the team] for a reason. That was to win a national championship and we came up short, so I’m pretty disappointed right now.”

After defeating the Université de Montréal and then McGill in conference playoffs, Concordia went undefeated in the nationals portion of the postseason, winning all three of their round-robin games as well as their semi-final game against Saint Mary’s, defeating the Huskies 8-1.

However, the Stingers struggled when it mattered most. The Stingers were baffled by McGill starting pitcher Tim Jones, who threw for seven innings as he gave up just one run on seven hits while striking out eight batters on 114 pitches.

“[Jones] had a great game out there,” said Schwartz. “[He] kept us off-balance and we really didn’t know what to do. We didn’t have smart, disciplined at-bats and that was the difference in the game.”

The Stingers countered with Brandon Berkovits, who got off to a strong start in the first inning, retiring the first three batters he faced, striking out two. But problems for
Berkovits started in the second inning, where he gave up two runs on two hits.

A run scored thanks to a sacrifice fly ball in the second inning by infielder Alex Hall would then cut McGill’s lead to 2-1, but that was as close as the Stingers would get for the rest of the game.

Berkovits allowed two more runs before being pulled from the game in the fourth inning, ending his day with only 3.1 innings pitched.

Sam Belisle-Springer then came in and allowed another run and pitched only two-thirds of an inning before giving way to relief pitcher Andre Lagarde. Lagarde played three innings and threw two strikeouts, but allowed a run in the sixth inning to extend McGill’s lead to 6-1, putting the final nail in the coffin for the Stingers.

A second consecutive loss in the title game felt bittersweet for a few Stingers, including Paquin and Lagarde, two key veterans who won’t be back with the team next season.

“We got to the national championship finals, so I’m really very proud of the guys,” said Schwartz said. “But I’m also very disappointed and sad for them because I know how much they wanted it. A couple of guys are graduating and I felt very badly for them, in terms of Andre Lagarde, in terms of Jean-Christophe Paquin—these guys wanted it even maybe more than I did.”

Still, Schwartz remained positive and promised a better squad next season.

“We’re going to come back next year,” said Schwartz. “We’re going to fill the holes where we’re going to be missing graduating students, and we’re going to come back stronger next year.

“I’m not leaving, we’re not quitting.”

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