Redbirds 12, Stingers 11: A down to the wire affair

Redbirds beat crosstown rivals in Stingers’ season opener

Stingers’ outfielder Matthew Fletcher (right) readies himself in the batter’s box with McGill pitcher Gabriel Braun looking on. Photo Conor Tomalty

It was Sept. 5, in the bottom of the ninth inning, bases were loaded, and the score was tied 11-11. Infielder Evan Dunne settled into the batter’s box for the McGill Redbirds, facing Concordia Stingers’ pitcher Milo Austlander-Padgham. Austlander-Padgham delivered the pitch and with one swing, the game ended.

The game itself was a high-scoring affair. Many pitchers took the mound for both teams. In fact, starting pitchers–Nathan Lavoie of Concordia and Gabriel Braun of McGill–were pulled before completing three innings of work. Issues with command proved to be their downfall. Heading into the third inning, the game was knotted up at 3-3. 

“We have a bunch of rookies and I didn’t have a lot of practice with them,” said Stingers’ catcher Thomas Savard when asked about the eight pitchers sent to the mound for Concordia. “It was hard to figure out their number one pitch and the best sequence they have.”

Savard added the pitchers fared decently well for the first game and that, with more time, the chemistry would grow.  

Concordia took a decisive lead in the third inning. The Redbirds found themselves in hot water by loading the bases. Braun and his pitching replacement Braden Tennill walked batter after batter. A third replacement pitcher, Donovan Worrall, was tasked with recording the final out, but not before four Stingers’ baserunners crossed home plate. The third inning finished with Concordia up 7-3. 

However, the Redbirds never surrendered. With Charles Young on the mound for the Stingers, McGill’s bats came alive. After infielder Brandon Kim laced a single between third base and shortstop, outfielder Alessandro Perreault cranked a two-run home run over the left field wall. With Stingers’ pitcher Jacob Ohanian now on the rubber for the Stingers, McGill capitalized by scoring four additional runs by the end of the inning, taking back the lead 9-7.

“[The Redbirds] battled through every single inning,” said McGill head coach Chris Haddad post-game. “Even though they made errors, they never gave up.”

Concordia erased the score differential in the fifth inning. With runners on second and third, infielder Alex Ramsay hit a single, plating both runners. Ramsay advanced into scoring position, and another base knock from outfielder Matthew Fletcher gave the Stingers a 10-9 lead.

Concordia extended their lead to 11-9 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, setting up a thrilling final frame. Austlander-Padgham gave up two walks to start the inning and McGill outfielder Sacha Remillard smacked a triple into the centrefield alley, tying the game 11-11. Stingers’ head coach Howie Schwartz elected to intentionally walk the next two batters, loading the bases with one out already put away. 

“The two batters […] they didn’t matter. The runner on third is the winning run […] the risk is walking the batter,” said Stingers’ head coach Howie Schwartz when asked about his decision post-game. “[With the infielders] playing all the way in–[the last groundball hit] probably would have been a double-play ball–I was hoping for a force out at the plate.” 

Dunne stepped into the batter's box for the Redbirds, facing off against Austlander-Padgham in the most poetic and dramatic moment a baseball game can showcase. With one swing of the bat, it was all over. Dunne clobbered a pitch back up the middle of the infield, sealing the 12-11 victory for the Redbirds.

Haddad attributed “Attitude, never giving up and batters coming through big time” as the main factors that propelled his team forward.

The Stingers are back in action on Saturday, Sept. 9 in a doubleheader at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes’ home field. The first pitch is set for 12 p.m.