The men’s baseball team came up just short in their weekend playoff series against the powerful Durham College Lords, winners of the last two Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association Ontario Conference championships.
Queen’s fell 4-2 to the Lords in their first game Saturday in Oshawa, but rebounded with a narrow 5-4 victory to take the series back to Kingston for a single, decisive contest Sunday at Megaffin Park.
But the Gaels couldn’t take advantage of their home field’s friendly confines and the support of plenty of energetic fans and hecklers. They lost 4-3 to the Lords, who will advance to face the St. Clair Saints in next weekend’s Ontario finals.
Pitcher Dan Osterer, who threw all seven innings Sunday, said it was just luck that cost Queen’s the game.
“We played really hard,” he said. “It was just bad hops and bad breaks. On a different day, we still win.”
Osterer said the Gaels took pride in pushing Durham to three games given the Lords’ reputation.
“They’re a very solid club,” he said. “We took a close one from them yesterday and battled the whole time. We felt we took it right to the end.” Osterer said he wasn’t feeling his best by the end of Sunday’s game but he kept throwing because he thought he could still help the team.
“The arm was feeling a little wonky, but you know, it’s the seventh inning of game three and you’ve got to leave it all out there,” he said.
Head coach Tom Reid said he thought Osterer did a great job.
“Dan’s a warrior,” he said. “Dan has a lot of heart and he battled all the way. Dan’s not the reason our team got beat today. We made a lot of mistakes and we lost too many opportunities. We just let them slip through our fingers and that’s the bottom line.”
Durham struck first in Sunday’s game with a quick run, but the Gaels responded with some clever bunting and base running gambits to tie it up. Durham added a second run on some Gaels’ fielding errors, but Queen’s scored twice to regain the lead. But three Queen’s batters went down in order on strikeouts and ground balls with the bases loaded. Durham then scored twice in the top of the seventh to take the win.
Reid said the failure to capitalize on the runners in scoring position cost Queen’s the game.
“The main thing that went wrong was we had an opportunity to score and we didn’t get it done,” he said. “There’s going to be walks, there’s going to be errors, there’s going to be bad bounces and what have you, but we had a chance to break the game open and we didn’t.”
Reid said he was pleased the Gaels were able to give Durham such a fight, though.
“Durham are historically one, two or three in the country, so to take them to the limit’s a lot of fun,” he said. “This year, our team on paper wasn’t even supposed to be in the playoffs. We had a slow start and we improved every week, and even the coach of Durham, he just told me, ‘I’m glad we don’t have to play you guys any more this year.’” Fourth-year third baseman Todd Larson said the Gaels made a lot of progress this season.
“We had a good team this year; we had probably the best infield in the league,” he said. “We had some great pitching and some good rookies this year.”
Durham head coach Sam Dempster said he wasn’t surprised to see the Gaels put up such a fight.
“Queen’s, they’re always like this, all the time.”
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