Mac in search of first OUA baseball crown

A new Ontario University Athletics baseball champion will be crowned this weekend as the McMaster Marauders (12-8) and the Brock Badgers (16-4) battle in a best-of-three series.

A trip to the final is nothing new for the Badgers, having advanced to the championship six of the past seven years. They are batting .333 when it comes to championship series victories but have won just two OUA titles – in 2002 and ’04.

Brock has been a bridesmaid each year during Western’s recent three-year reign as champions, but will look to defeat an older rival in the form of the McMaster Marauders. Mac has only two appearances in the OUA baseball final, losing in both 2002 and 2003. This year’s championship is a rematch of the 2002 final, when Brock defeated McMaster in two straight contests.

But that was then, this is now. The Marauders defeated the reigning champions in the OUA semi-final, ousting Western 4-2 and 8-2 in the best-of-three series.

OUA batting champion Chris Piccini (Mississauga) was a headache for the Mustangs both at the plate and on the mound. He was 5-for-10 hitting in the series, scoring three runs and driving in a pair. As for his pitching, Piccini threw eight strong innings in Game 2, allowing just one earned run on seven hits and a walk.

Brock swept the Waterloo Warriors in the other semi-final, and has won 10 of its past 11 contests. The Badgers edged the Warriors 3-2 before shelling them 9-0 in Game 2. Mike Walker (Guelph) had the big blast in the second game, a three-run home run in the top of the third. Brock scored seven runs in the inning.

Jordan Prosper (Oshawa) went eight complete innings allowing just five hits while striking out seven.

Pitcher Jason Emers (Welland) was the strikeout leader for the Badgers this season with 33, and picked up the victory in Game 1 against Waterloo. Centerfielder Ben Sylvester (Brantford) went 2-for-5 in the series scoring three runs.

Brock’s only loss in October came against McMaster, a 5-4 outcome at Bernie Arbour Stadium in Hamilton. The Badgers swept the Marauders in an early-September doubleheader, winning 8-1 and 2-1 at Community Park in St. Catharines. McMaster outfielder Ryan Hurley (Ingersoll) missed the doubleheader, but was 3-for-4 with two RBI in the October game.

Hurley and John McGregor (Ottawa) joined Piccini as Marauders in the Top 10 in OUA batting this regular season. With their first-place finish in the regular season, the Badgers have home-field advantage in the final series. Game 1 will take place at Community Park today (Friday, Oct. 17) at 7 p.m. The series switches to Bernie Arbour Stadium for Game 2 on Saturday with the opening pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, will take place at Community Park on Sunday with a start time of 1 p.m.