By Harlan Nemerofsky
The Ryerson Rams baseball team won their first-ever regular season game Friday night on home turf.
Catcher Keith Capstick drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth and shortstop Mark Tari plated the winning run as the Rams (1-0) defeated the Guelph Gryphons (1-1) 4-3 at Howard Talbot Park in their first game of the season.
Rams starting pitcher Bryan Vardzel went seven strong innings, allowing just two earned and striking out eight in a no-decision performance.
“What can you say? It’s just incredible,” said Rams head coach Ben Rich of his starting pitcher’s performance. “He threw a tremendous seven innings. He got ahead of guys all game and he showed us why he’s our ace right there.”
Faulty Gryphons defense and pitching opened the floodgates in the top of the ninth, allowing the first four Rams to reach base on two errors and two walks, allowing Capstick’s to score Tari for the winning run.
After leadoff batter Tari reached base on a high throw by the shortstop, centre-fielder Quinn Cumming followed suit when his bunt was overthrown by Gryphons third baseman Sean Molony.
“You saw there in the last inning in a tie game, we put the ball in play, put the pressure on them, and we capitalized on their mistakes,” said Rich.
Gryphons starter Brandon Poole was shelled, going five innings and allowing four runs- three earned- while walking seven.
Rams third baseman Josh Lund went 2-3 with an RBI and two walks, becoming Ryerson’s first runner to ever reach base with a two-out walk in the first.
The Rams got on the board early after Nathan Shiwcharan’s ripped a single to left, cashing in Lund from second.
In the second, Lund airmailed a throw wide from the hot corner, allowing Gryphons first baseman Matt Forer to score from second.
The Gryphons took a short-lived lead in the third after Aaron Loder scored on a Sean Molony groundout.
But the Rams responded with two in the fifth, cued by Cumming’s leadoff triple.
The Gryphons tied the game at 3-3 in the eighth inning when catcher Justin Interisano, the league’s best hitter last season, crushed a Lucas Chrichton 2-0 offering over the wall in left field for a solo-shot.
But after Tari scored to give the Rams the lead, reliever Chrichton got centre-fielder Greg Hewitt to pop out for the final out in a scoreless bottom of the ninth.
“All you could hear was them chirping down the first base line,” said Chrichton of the Gryphons bench, after allowing left fielder Joseph Ciccia to reach on a two-out walk in the ninth. “It kind of got to me for a bit and then I just put that aside, went right after them and got the final out.”
Chrichton, who came in to relieve Vardzel in the eighth, went two innings of one-run baseball, becoming the pitcher of record.
The Rams play their next game on Sept. 7 when they go to Guelph, Ont., to face the Waterloo Warriors. Their next home game is on Sept. 26 against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues at Howard Talbot Park.
Check out our Flickr for more photos.