Ryerson swept by U of T in doubleheader
By Sean Addis
Baseball is a sport that can provide many great highs, like last weekend’s Ryerson Rams' sweep of the Western Mustangs, and many humbling moments such as Saturday’s sweep by the cross town rival Toronto Varsity Blues.
The Rams faced one of the best starting pitchers in the league and the relentless and deep Varsity Blues offence on Saturday. However, Ryerson’s own poor overall performance didn’t help the outcome. Missed opportunities by the offence, some poor base running, at times sloppy defence and short performances from a usually dominate rotation made for a long afternoon of baseball.
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Toronto starter, Graham Tebbit, was almost unhittable for six innings and extended his season scoreless inning streak to 13 innings. He pitched six one-hit innings with eight strikeouts. Tebbit has one of the best fastballs in the OUA and was able to mix it with his secondary pitches to dominate the Rams.
Ryerson shortstop, Phil Seguin, was the only Ram to get a hit off of Tebbit, a towering double to left. He said after the game that the Varsity Blues pitcher was not as dominant as he has been in the past, but Tebbit’s presence on the mound can be intimidating.
“That guy (Tebbit) has a dominating presence on the mound. A lot of the guys know coming into it he plays pro ball; they go up there with the attitude you are working from a hole,” said Seguin. “He wasn’t giving his best performance but that dominating presence alone kept the bats shy and cold.”
The Rams' offence was able to score three runs on five hits against the Toronto bullpen. This included run-scoring singles by Andrew Ciuffreda and Matt Papania, and a ground out by catcher Kenji Nakanishi, his first OUA run batted in.
Quinn Cumming, Ryerson’s ace, who had been averaging seven innings a game, only last two innings surrendering five runs. Toronto was making hard contact on all of the Cummings pitches and this certainly influenced the decision for Ryerson to remove him early. Another reason behind the early hook would be to have him available out of the bullpen the next day against the Brock Badgers.
“Quinn wasn’t pitching effectively and they were seeing him well,” said pitching coach Jon Rubin. “Toronto faces him a few extra times a season, including exhibition, so they benefit seeing him more. Depending on how he is feeling tomorrow we could possibly use him out of the bullpen.”
The Varsity Blues have a deep and talented lineup, and it flexed its muscle on Saturday. In the middle of the lineup, right fielder Sebastian Lech is hitting for an average .414, Taylor Young-Schultz leads the league in RBIs (14) and first baseman Mateos Kekatos has an OPS of .800. They combined to drive in eight of the runs for Toronto and go a combined 8-for-14 with three extra-base hits.
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Two big innings by the Toronto offence and four errors by Ryerson led to another lopsided loss by the Rams. Kevin MacDonald, coming off an outstanding start against the Western Mustangs, lasted only three innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits. He was also the victim of a couple of errors by second baseman Kyle Conquer and third baseman Jeremias Sucre that extended innings.
Ryerson took an early 2-0 lead. But the offence had multiple opportunities to add more runs early, but stranded seven runners in the first four innings. They were gifted a run in the first on an error by the Toronto third baseman, Vijay Ramnarace. In the second inning, Jon Fagnola drove in the other run, with one of his two singles.
Mark Douris, Varsity Blues second baseman, and Ramnarace led the offensive attack driving in six of the 11 runs. Douris sealed the victory for University of Toronto, with a bases loaded double in the four-run sixth. The game showcased how deep and talented the Varsity Blues' lineup is, as they had six different players drive in runs.
If there was a silver lining for Ryerson after the two-game sweep, it was the relief performances by Matt MacDowell and Anthoy Fera. As the playoffs approach, the Rams are looking for members of the young and inexperienced bullpen to step forward. MacDowell and Fera pitched a combined four innings surrendering one hit, a run and struck out five.
“They need to demonstrate that they have that killer instinct, and they need to respond after today’s less than stellar outing and just come out with a bit better mental toughness and focus,” said Rubin after the game. “We have seen anyone can beat anyone in this league.”