David Pastor, Patrick Amaya and Remi Drouin, Sports Reporters
One team’s disappointing season-ender is another’s victorious swan song.
The Hawks chances to repeat as back-to-back national champions came to an end as Humber lost to the eventual National champs, the Durham Lords.
But Sam Dempster, who has been a part of the Lords’ coaching staff for 28 years and has more than 400 wins, won his second national title in the season that will be his last coaching the Oshawa-based team.
Sometimes the best coaching doesn’t involve much direct involvement by the manager, but letting the players carry the game, and the tournament.
“I’m feeling excited,” he said after winning this year’s tournament between Oct. 24 and 26 in south Etobicoke and Brampton. “[I] just sat there and watch these guys play,” he said.
“It’s great to see that nobody let down when we got down,” Dempster said. He said the Lords’ top hitters stepped up to the plate and gave it their all at the right time.
The Hawks’ chances at gold ended with a 5-2 loss to the Lords on Oct. 25 in the National College Baseball Championship semi-finals.
It wasn’t the same result as two weeks ago when the Hawks defeated the Lords 9-2 to win their second consecutive OCAA championship on Oct.19.
Humber hosted its second consecutive National tournament as the best schools in the country came to Etobicoke’s Connorvale park and Brampton’s Teramoto park vying for the National Championship.
The participants in the NCBC besides the host and the 2019 National Champs were the Thompson River University Wolfpack from Kamloops, B.C., the John Abbott Islanders from Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que., the Holland Hurricanes from Charlottetown, P.E.I., and the Lionel-Groulx Nordiques from Sainte-Thérèse, Que.
Teams can only participate if they were invited by Humber College, who volunteered to host the tournament.
“This is the first national tournament we’ve had where we’ve had teams from the east coast and the west coast,” Lords head coach Sam Dempster said.
The Hawks opened the tournament winning a nail biter against the TRU Wolfpack 2-1 at Connorvale Park.
Cam Hibbs got the win, going 4-1/3 shutout innings while striking out four along the way.
Later that night at Teramoto park, the Hawks beat the Islanders 6-0 as Anthony Goddard threw a complete game shutout, going all seven innings, while allowing only two hits and struck out a career high 13 batters.
“I felt pretty good,” Goddard said. “It was a big win for me personally
and got the team a bye to the semis, so it felt good for me especially leading the team to a dub (win).”
First base Aidan Murphy led the offence, hitting his second home run of the season and first of the tournament.
Humber’s dreams of repeating as champs were crushed the next day by the Lords in the semi-finals.
“We want to be competitive like Humber is,” Dempster said before their game. “They’re a great club and we respect them greatly.”
Starting pitcher Steven Hough took the mound for Humber but was taken out of the game after just three innings. He allowed five runs on seven hits before Matt Stoddart took the mound to finish the game, but it wasn’t enough for the defending national champions.
“It’s tough, I feel bad for them,” said Humber’s head coach Jeff Gibbs. “It hurts when we don’t do well.”
Humber finished the tournament in fourth place, losing 8-7 to the Hurricanes after giving up six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in the bronze medal game.
In the finals, Durham defeated the Wolfpack 2-1.
Lords’ pitcher Jake Legros went all eight innings allowing only one run while striking out six.
Centre fielder Riley Gray, who led the Lords with a batting average of .533, one RBI and three runs scored, was awarded the NCBC’s top hitter award, all-star and MVP.
“I mean, it’s an amazing feeling, we started out the year two and six” win-loss record, Gray said. “So I mean, to make it here [and] win it all, it’s pretty impressive.”