VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds lost 4-2 and 1-0 to the Concordia Cavaliers on Saturday at Thunderbird Park, settling for a split in a home-and-home NAIA West conference series after winning twice on the road in Portland, Ore., on Friday.
UBC is now 29-10 this season, with a 12-4 record in conference. With the pair of Saturday losses, they fall to 2-4 in league play at Thunderbird Park.
“It’s a disappointing end to the weekend, that’s for sure,” UBC head coach Terry McKaig said following the losses. “We’ve had arguably some of our best games of the year on the road—even the two games yesterday—and then we come out here at Thunderbird Park today flat. Just nothing from the bats; just terrible offence. We just couldn’t put any good at bats together.”
The Thunderbirds lost the first game of the doubleheader 4-2. Both runs came in the second inning and then they were shut out for the next 16 innings.
Concordia got on the scoreboard in the first inning of the day. Catcher Nate Esposito singled up the middle and was advanced to third when left fielder Konner Reddick smashed a double out to right field. Esposito made it home on a RBI groundout for the first of four Cavaliers runs in the game. Second baseman Buruse then singled through the right side, giving Reddick enough time to make it home from third.
UBC starter Alex Graham (North Vancouver, B.C.) pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, and then it was the ‘Birds’ turn to score.
Catcher Cam Firth (London, Ont.) led off with a double to left field. Two batters later, Second baseman Justin Orton (Essex, Ont.) nailed a triple to right field to score Firth. Later in the inning, shortstop Kyle McComb (Surrey, B.C.) hit a sacrifice fly out to left field, giving Orton the opportunity to tag and make it home for UBC’s last run of the afternoon.
The Cavaliers clinched the game with two more runs in the fourth. Right fielder Cole Pittman found a hole in center field, good for a single, and then moved to third on designated hitter Corbin Henderson’s double. Second baseman Steve Bartells singled to left field, driving in Concordia’s third run. Graham left the game because of injury and was relieved by rookie Brad Smith (North Vancouver, B.C.).
Concordia catcher Hunter Weiss was hit by a pitch, pushing Bartnells to second, loading the bases. Smith then caught shortstop Adam Taylor looking for his first strikeout of the game, but then Esposito drew a walk, to make it 4-2. Smith prevented any more damage by striking out Reddick with the bases loaded to end the inning. He then closed the game, throwing five more full innings and only surrendering one hit. He had four more strikeouts.
Orton was 2-for-4 at the plate to lead the home side’s offence in Saturday’s opener.
Game 2 saw only one run, in Concordia’s favour, allowing the visitors to sweep the Thunderbirds with a 1-0 victory.
The run came in the fourth inning, when first baseman Jarren Goddard singled to center field. Reddick laid down a sacrifice bunt to move him to second. Goddard advanced to third on a passed ball. Pittman singled to right-center field and Goddard wheeled home for the game’s only run.
UBC was unable to string lucrative at bats together, and went down 1-2-3 in five out of nine innings against Concordia starting pitcher Austin Hadley, who recorded a 12-strikout complete game.
“Over a 55-game schedule you see ebbs and flows of your team,” McKaig said. “But, at the same time, we’ve only got three weeks left of the season before playoffs so… championship teams really start to kind of climb at this point in the season and that’s what’s really disappointing after yesterday is that, I thought that was a really good first step to start doing that for us. And then we come home and are really flat today; that’s a step back.”
Alex Webb (Surrey, B.C.) pitched six innings, surrendering seven hits and one run. He had nine strikeouts. He was relieved by Tyler Gillies (London, Ont.), who only gave up one hit and had one strike out.
“That’s been one of my worries this year, having that consistency in offence,” said McKaig. “We faced some playoff type pitching today and it really just shouldn’t be a shut out. It just shouldn’t be. It’s not good enough. I thought we could’ve come out today and played well—or really even split the double-header—and give us something to really build off of to get ready for the playoffs, but, a day like today really sets you back.”
First baseman Bruce Yari (Waterloo, Ont.) had two of UBC’s three hits in the game, while center fielder Bryan Arthur (Abbotsford, B.C.) had the other.
The Thunderbirds look to rebound next weekend, when they host the Menlo College Oaks of Atherton, Calif., for a four-game weekend conference series. First pitch is at 12 noon on Saturday.