The Durham Lords have a big task ahead if they want to win the OCAA men’s baseball championship.
To take gold they have to knock down the five-time defending champions, the St. Clair Saints, in the first game of the semi-finals Friday, Oct. 19. Not only have the Saints been defending this title for five years, they are also the only champions since the inception of OCAA baseball competition.
The Saints finished this season 15-5, but Lords pitcher Alec Brown is confident in his team, which finished the year 11-9.
“We’ve already beaten them twice with our top two pitchers, myself and (Jake) Legros. Legros dominated them and I had a good game against them as well so I think we’ll keep their bats quiet,” Brown said.
Brown, a sports management student, will be the starting pitcher against St. Clair. “I’m looking forward to getting on the mound there in front of the home crowd. It’s very exciting,” he said.
The Lords are hosting this year’s championships and face the Saints at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the newly-renovated Kinsmen Stadium.
The other two finalists are the Fanshawe Falcons (10-10) and the Humber Hawks (17-3), who are the top-ranked team heading into the finals, riding an 11-game winning streak. Fanshawe faces Humber at 11 a.m. Friday.
“Pitching is a strength, and our bats are pretty good, too,” said Sam Dempster, Durham’s head coach. “They’ve been producing all year and we’ll see what happens.”
“We can compete with any team in the league,” Brown said, referring to his team’s strong pitching and playing “great defence” this year.
The path to success for the Lords is rooted in timely hitting.
“Stringing (hits) together is probably the toughest part,” Brown said. “We got hits here and there. We average six or seven hits a game, it’s just trying to get those hits together that we need to work on … to compete at the OCAAs this year.”
Dempster is comfortable with his team’s lineup, saying business student Jake Legros will likely be pitching in the game as well.
But Dempster is confident in his team’s ability to match up against the Saints.
“The beautiful thing about baseball is anything can happen on any given day. The game’s played on grass and dirt, not paper,” Dempster said.
The gold medal game is Saturday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. at Kinsmen.