By: Shelby Cockhill
ETOBICOKE—The Humber Hawks had a bittersweet home opener this Sunday, with a taste of both victory and defeat against the Seneca Sting . The first game was won by Humber by a final score of 9-3, and the second marked a disappointing loss with Seneca winning 2-1.
The stands were packed with fans and full of energy at Connorvale Park as both teams took to the field. Jen McMillen, Humber's Dean of Students, was invited to throw the first pitch of the game, officially beginning Humber's season at home. The home opening game had a very distinctive energy and holds a significant place in the minds of many players and fans alike.
When asked what made a home opener so special, Hawks Head Coach Denny Berni had some insight, "Well I'll tell you what's special is we will have the Humber students and all the professors and everyone here so it's a big deal for us. Not to mention it's going to be a great day. Everyone is looking forward to the home opener."
Rookie pitcher Rory Pollard,who hails from Orangeville ON, took to the mound as the first game of the afternoon doubleheader began. The scoring started off slow, runners from both teams were able to make it on base, but neither team was able to push them all the way home for a run.
The action really began to pick up during the 3rd inning. The Hawks scoring the first run of the game and quickly following it up with another two. Hawks player Matt Stoddart was the first to get on base, with Brandon Manley following. Keegan Murphy with a fantastic hit sailing far into centre field, was able to drive both players home, scoring the first two runs of the game and getting himself to third base. Toronto native, Brandon Costa, followed up with a powerful hit to left field giving Murphy the chance to run home and score the Hawks third consecutive run.
Seneca was feeling the heat, still reeling from two losses against Durham on Friday, they seemed desperate for a win. The determination paid off as they scored their first run of the game and the season in the fourth inning.
The Hawks did not let this deter them as they continued to play on. As the game progressed it seemed the Hawk players were only growing more determined, bolder and more aggressive at the plate. The team's focus never seemed to waver as they pounded on, this unwavering determination payed off in the fifth inning, with Humber scoring an astonishing four runs. The bases were loaded, a hit by rookie Aaron Arbic-Cohen allowed Hunter Bisser to run home for Humber's fourth run of the game. With the bases still loaded the Third Baseman Matt Stoddart hit the ball far into the centre field, While Seneca scrambled, Humber's runners were able to sprint home, successfully clearing the bases and scoring three more runs bringing their game total to seven.
With the Hawks turning up the heat, Seneca was feeling the pressure and managed to churn out two more runs in the top of the sixth.
Still with a substantial lead of 7-3, the Hawks did not relent. During the bottom of the sixth, the Hawks were able to pound out two more runs bringing the game total to 9-3 for the Hawks.
Rookie pitcher Rory Pollard played an incredible game, he was focused and displayed his superior skill throughout the match. His determination and various skillful throws kept the Seneca batters guessing ensuring Humber's victory. For his efforts during the game, Pollard was named Hawks Nation player of the Game.
The second game began 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first. The match was low scoring with neither team getting any runs on the board until the 3rd inning when Seneca succeeded in scoring the first of the game.
The Hawks were able to tie it up in the 4th with Brendan Lyons claiming the team's first and only run this game.
Try as they may, the Humber team was not at its best during the second match. Twice the Hawks had the bases fully loaded with runners ready to move for home however they just could not seem to follow through on the opportunity.
The game remained tied until the 6th when Seneca was able to score another run by way of an error, placing them in the lead once more. No other runs were scored by either team resulting in a final score of 2-1 for Seneca.
Controversy reared its head in the bottom of the seventh. The Hawks, with runners on first and second with no outs, were looking to tie up the game. A gap shot by Andrew Thomson was resulted in an incredible diving catch by the Seneca left fielder. Keegan Murphy returned to second, tagged up and moved on to third base, just 90 feet away from tying the game.
Seneca appealed the play, but the field umped correctly ruled Murphy safe. The Sting coaches continued the challenge and in a surprising move, the home plate ump overturned the call and this left Humber with two outs and a player on first.
The plate umpire stated that "the runner was 10 to 15 feet off the base and never returned to tag up". Unfortunately for the hometown Hawks, video review is not in play in the OCAA. The video clearly shows that Murphy did indeed return to second base and actually waited until the left fielder showed he made the catch, and then scooted safely to third.
The video may have been clear, but that will not help secure the Hawks a tie, or save coach Denny Berni from suffering an ejection and further suspension.
It is still early in the season however the results today bring Humber's record to one win, one loss and one tie.
The Hawks will take to the field once again next Saturday September 17th for a doubleheader against Fanshawe. The event will take place in London at Labatt Park with games at both 4:00PM and 6:00PM.