Gaels split series with Durham

Center fielder Ryan Berlin, game one’s lone run scorer, gallops toward the bag to try and beat out the Lords fielder’s throw.
Center fielder Ryan Berlin, game one’s lone run scorer, gallops toward the bag to try and beat out the Lords fielder’s throw.
Monica Marton

As the warm summer day quickly turned into a chilly autumn evening, the Gaels baseball team ended the Durham Lords four game undefeated streak by topping them 1-0 in the first game of a doubleheader on Wednesday night at McGaffin Field.

The Gaels, who opened their season last weekend with a pair of victories over the Ottawa Gee Gees before dropping a pair of games to Carleton a day later, were looking to move up in the standings and gain some ground on the first place Durham club. However, in the latter match of the doubleheader Durham quickly regrouped and handed the Gaels a 9-1 loss, dropping the team’s record to 3-3 in the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association.

In the first game, manager Perry Conrad sent ace right-hander Phil Darling to the mound who pitched like a man possessed. He racked up his first strikeout immediately in the first inning, and a diving stab by first baseman Adam Campisano sent the Lords down in order. The Gaels’ offensive efforts also came up short as Kevin Jennings’ one out single went for not when he was picked off stealing second in the Gaels’ half of the first inning. Darling issued a walk to Durham’s Geoff Allen to start the second inning, but his second strikeout and a catch and throw double play by right fielder Elliott Brown ended any potential scoring chance. Queen’s again wasted an opportunity for offense in the second when a Jeff Simeone single was followed by an inning ending double play. The third and fourth innings were exact replicas of the first two as Darling got the Lords in order while Queen’s had one runner reach base each inning only to see him stranded.

Darling got himself into a jam in the fifth when he again walked Geoff Allen, who became the first runner in scoring position for either team when he stole second before reaching third on a wild pitch. With one out and the infield in, Durham’s Daryl Reid grounded out to third and Adam Dupont flew out to center, ending the threat and squandering the runner.

The Gaels finally managed to wake themselves from their offensive slumber in the sixth. Ryan Berlin lead off the inning with a single and the ensuing sacrifice bunt by Jeff Simeone was misplayed by Lords pitcher Denny Hull who overthrew first base. When the dust had settled Berlin was standing at third and Simeone had reached second. Elliott Brown then drew a walk to load the bases with no outs, signaling the end of Hull’s evening on the mound. His replacement, Matt Horning, immediately proceeded to give up a single to his counterpart, Darling, bringing around the game’s first run. The Gaels inexplicably stranded all three runners but Darling got Durham in order in the final inning to preserve an all-important 1-0 victory. All told, the third year Queen’s veteran pitched a complete game one-hit shutout, throwing 105 pitches and striking out five.

The beginning of the second game had a very similar, defensive tone. The Gaels found themselves trailing 1-0 after five innings behind some strong pitching from Jeff Simeone. The floodgates opened in the sixth as three runs chased Simeone from the game and saw both Elliott Brown and Scott Hodgkinson try to stem the tide. The first place Lords overpowered the Gaels en route to a 9-1 drubbing of the home squad. Durham scored nine runs on eight hits while the Gaels scored one run on just two hits. The team’s record now stands at a respectable 3-3, but could use a little mending as the Gaels get deeper into the extremely short regular season schedule. Manager Perry Conrad cited the team’s tendency to strand base runners as a key reason for the low offensive output, something that he feels will have to improve as the team heads into a four game home stand this coming weekend at McGaffin Field. Revenge will be on the menu for the Gaels as they square off against Carleton again at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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