By Devin Jones
Despite Saturday games being canceled due to rain, the Ryerson Rams men’s baseball team kicked off its season on a positive note, winning both its games Sunday afternoon against the York University Lions.
With Talbot Park — the Rams’ home field — waterlogged and unusable, the baseball team had to travel to Aurora to play the season opener. The Rams first 4-3 win of the day came courtesy of a Josh Lund walk-off rope double in the ninth inning, while the second game went down to the wire with the Rams taking it 6-5.
“Yesterday was a great start to the season, and a very good test for our team having to come from behind in both games,” said Rams outfielder Jason Te. “Our pitching and defense looked to be in mid-season form and hitting was very timely. After starting 0-8 last year these two wins felt amazing.”
Due to rain, the start time for the first game was pushed from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. But that didn’t stop the Rams from swinging often and swinging early, as Lund hit a double in the bottom of the first, bringing in Mehta Mrugen from first base.
The Lions responded quickly, scoring two runs in the top of the second off the bats of first and second basemen Alex Johnson and Stephen Ranalli. The only other offensive production that York would see was a lone run in the top of the third courtesy of shortstop Tyler LeBlanc, to put the Lions ahead 3-1.
Until the bottom of the ninth the rest of the game was a defensive battle. Ryerson pitcher Quinn Cumming took the win, striking out 13 over nine innings. It was the bottom of the ninth that saw the Rams offensive take over, with right fielder Matthew Papania and second basemen Julio Ramirez getting on base. With the runners on, the win for Ryerson was sealed by a walk-off double from Lund.
“I’m pretty sure it was a 3-1 count, and if wasn’t for the guys who got on base just before I got up to bat, the walk-off wouldn’t have happened,” said Lund. “As an athlete who’s been training for these games, you always want to start on a positive note, which we happened to do.”
The second game was a back and forth battle, with the Lions striking first, scoring three runs in the top of the first. The Rams would score one run in the second, and three more times in the bottom of the fifth to move ahead 4-3.
“There’s been some growing in past seasons, but there’s a lot of optimism for us this year going forward,” Lund said. “With the bad weather and the late start we just grinded them out and managed to do what we needed to, to walk away with our first two wins of the season.”
York would tie the game in the top of the sixth, but Ryerson would hit right back in the bottom of the inning, scoring twice to make it 6-4 thanks to third basemen Joey Armstrong and Ramirez.
The Lions would score another run in the top of the seventh but with Rams pitcher Allan Perkins closing out the game, striking out one, the Rams were able to walk away with the hard earned victory.
“It was a good character game for us. For the guys to understand that teams aren’t going to lie down, and also that we are capable of responding and coming back,” said head coach Ben Rich. “The guys adjusted for the second game and we saw the positive results. We’ll be reinforcing those good habits, and also working to get our pitchers some work, since our Saturday games were rained out.”