Defending champs? So what?

After being rained out on Saturday, the Battle of Waterloo finally got underway on Sept. 16. The playoff hopeful Warriors took on the defending champion Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in a double header, looking to climb above .500 and set a tone for the season. The Warriors split the series to maintain even wins and losses at 3–3, but managed to hand Laurier their first loss of the season.
The Warriors came into the evening at 2–2, having crushed the Queens Gaels on opening day and dropping a pair of games to the Brock Badgers in St. Catharines Sept. 13. A win or two against Laurier would give the Warriors some confidence and lend credibility to their aspirations for 2014.

Men’s baseball head coach Tim Pegg said of the Golden Hawks, “Their team is built around pitching and defence. That’s how they won the championship last year, and that’s how they built their team this year.”

When asked about Laurier’s game plan, Pegg spoke about the pitching he expected the Warriors to face.

“I think for game one we’re probably going to see Jordan Petruska … he’s a good one. He throws hard, he has good offspeed stuff, he racks up strikeouts, and he doesn’t allow a lot of baserunners, and he doesn’t allow a lot of runs.”

Pegg’s prediction proved mostly correct. Petruska not only started game one, he threw a complete game. With 11 hits and a walk, he did allow some baserunners, but he gave up only two runs, scattering those hits thoughout the game. Veteran Warriors starter Adam Lentz had a tougher go. He pitched a respectable six innings, but gave up an equal number of runs on eight hits and four walks.

Laurier earned their keep with small-ball that first game, scoring a single run in each of five innings, and two in the fifth. They had their way on the basepaths, racking up seven steals. Reliever Jay Flannigan gave up a run in his first of two innings of work, surrendering three hits and two walks off 10 batters.

Second-year right-fielder Kyle Thalheimer had a good game, going three-for-four, while catcher Haydon Friesen and third-baseman Michael Clouthier both knocked in runs off of two hits. Overall, the Warriors couldn’t convert on their hits, and lost 7–2.

The second meeting proved far better for Waterloo. Starter Ben Tinklin threw a contrasting 5.1 frames, walking five, but striking out an impressive seven. The offence woke up, knocking in five, four of which came off Laurier starter Adam McBride in the fourth.

First baseman Cody Engel had an excellent finish to his night with a run, a hit, a walk, and two RBIs. Catcher Kevin Martin and left fielder Mike Gatchene had near-identical stat lines with a run, an RBI, and a couple hits apiece.

Once again Clouthier showed off his impressive abilities. After a strong offensive game one, he came in to pitch the last 1.2 of game two. Clouthier inherited some baserunners, but surrendered just one run to keep the game at 5–4 for the Warriors and pull a Chris Davis by picking up his first save of the season.

The Warriors go on the road this weekend against Ryerson and McMaster.