By Tom McCabe
The Ryerson Rams baseball team found themselves on both sides of a comeback in the process of claiming a thrilling two-game sweep over the visiting Laurentian Voyageurs on Saturday.
In game one, the Rams were able to extinguish an eight-run ninth inning comeback by the Voyageurs to hold on for a 13-12 win.
Early on, it looked like the Rams would cruise to an easy victory. A four-run first inning, followed by one run in the second and three more in the third, put the home team up 8-0 after three innings of play. Meanwhile, Rams starting pitcher Kevin Lucas cruised through the Voyageurs lineup, allowing just one unearned run on one hit, while adding five strikeouts through four innings of work.
“He came out of the gate and set the tone for us early,” said pitching coach Jon Rubin, “He’s been giving us a chance to win all year long.”
The Rams had a very good chance to win when Lucas’ day finished, as the offence added insurance runs in both the fifth and six innings, while also plating three runs in the eighth. While the Voyageurs put up three of their own in the sixth, they still trailed the Rams 13-4 heading into the ninth.
With Rams pitcher Justin Stonkus on in his third inning of relief, the Voyageurs offence exploded for six runs in the ninth to give themselves a 13-10 lead. Max Dieks was then brought in for the Rams, and after allowing two more runs to bring the game within one, he was able to get Tyler Gysbers to ground out to preserve the win.
Mitch Fiacco and Tyler Hopper stood out for the Rams, offensively. Fiacco collected three RBI on two hits while Hopper drove in two with three hits of his own. The win snapped a six-game losing streak for Ryerson.
In game two, it was the Rams who found themselves looking to play spoiler.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the seventh and final inning, the offence rallied and ended the frame strong, as Andrew Ciuffreda delivered a clutch two-run single and eventually scored on an error to tie the game.
After a scoreless eighth, Laurentian persisted and tacked on two runs in the ninth, once again forcing the Rams to answer. Back to back walks led to a two-run double by RJ Mienkowski to bring the Rams within one. Another walk and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for Matt Tohana, who hit a sharp ground ball to second base. Mienkowski would score on the play, winning the game for the Rams in dramatic fashion and granting them their first sweep of the season.
“It showed a lot of character coming back in two separate instances,” Rubin said. “Definitely proud of how the guys responded.”
Mienkowski had two hits along with two RBIs in game two. His teammate, Andrew Ciuffreda contributed as well, racking up two big RBI’s in the second contest. Meanwhile, the game’s hero, Matt Tohana, collected two hits in addition to the game winning RBI.
UP NEXT: The Rams will go on the road and head to Kitchener to take in the Waterloo Warriors on Friday. Both games are scheduled for 12:00 and 3:30 p.m.