ETOBICOKE, ON: The National College Baseball Championship game lasted seven innings, but the four runs scored in the Hawks opening at bat was all that was required as the home team rolled to a 7-3 win over the defending champion St. Clair Saints.
With the win, the Hawks completed the baseball trifecta, first by winning the OCAA Division crown, then their first OCAA title, followed by the National Championship victory on their home field of Connorvale Park. Along the way, Humber won an incredible 18 consecutive league, provincial and national wins.
The two head coaches were brilliant in their use of their pitching staffs, holding out their aces until the final game, while going undefeated to the gold medal game. Two-way star Miguel Cienfuegos toed the rubber for the Saints, while OCAA ERA king Rory Pollard was on the bump for the Hawks.
After a quick first inning by Pollard, which included a catch on a bullet up the middle to open the game, it was the home-team Hawks that burst out with their first swings.
The Hawks rolled through the entire line-up, batting around to put a four-spot on the scoreboard. Although the fourth run that crossed the plate proved to be the winner, the game was not without exciting and game-changing plays.
Garik Goddard blasted a long home run over the 375 fence, breaking the ice for the Saints. St. Clair battled back to cut the lead to 4-2, but a crazy play which saw the umpire call out a Saints batter out for running out of the base path after a strikeout. The result was the St. Clair player on second, who scored on the play being asked to return to second. Rory Pollard then picked off the runner to change the entire complexion of the inning.
The visiting Saints continued to battle, and were in a position to score but the play of the weekend was turned in by Humber's right-fielder Brandon Costa. Costa made a circuslike catch to end the inning which had a player ready to cross the plate and cut the deficit to one.
In their at bat in the sixth, the Hawks broke the game open, and with the Saints efforts in the top of the seventh, the three-spot they put up was the bumper needed. The key stroke was a triple by Hawks Player of the Game Dennis Dei Banning.
As with all great teams, the Saints would not go lightly, and with one run across they had the tying run in the on-deck circle. With two outs and men on base, Coach Ferreira went to the pen and brought in star closer Matt Stoddart. Stoddart induced a ground ball to shortstop, which eventually ended up in the glove of first baseman Brendan Lyons.
As with the result just a few weeks ago, jubilation ensued, as the Hawks celebrated their first National title.
"This was truly a special year", said Hawks first-year head coach Matthew Ferreira. "We had a very nice mix of veteran and freshman players, and they came together as a team quickly, trusting and playing for each other in every game".
2018 NCBC Post-Tournament Awards
OF Garik Goddard, St. Clair
OF Miguel Cienfuegos, St. Clair
C Matthew Brooks, St. Clair
P Rory Pollard, Humber
C Justin Marra, Humber
IF Keegan Murphy, Humber
IF/P Matt Bowden, Fanshawe
IF Kevin Bowden, Fanshawe
IF Liam Shibata, TRU