C/O Seyran Mammadov and McMaster sports Instagram
The baseball team finds big success in 2021, bringing back several awards.
As Canadian university sports teams returned from more than a full year off from their sports, many found themselves brushing off the rust that came from no in person practices and light workouts. The Marauders baseball team was not one of them.
After a near elimination earlier in October, the team surged all the way to the Ontario University Athletics finals against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, falling six to two while earning themselves a silver medal. To complement their successful season, outfielder Nik Motruck also won his second consecutive most valuable player award and pitcher Josh Kalmin took home the rookie of the year award.
As if a provincial silver medal wasn’t exciting enough, Josh Kalmin had an amazing week upon hearing that he had officially been declared the rookie of the year award winner, catching him by surprise.
“I was in Costco getting a mattress for my apartment when I saw that I was mentioned on Twitter. When I first saw it, it was exciting. [It’s] obviously really nice to be recognized by your peers for an award like that . . . Although it’s an individual award, the culture that McMaster baseball set up for me coming in was really the driving force. This team gives 110 per cent every single day,” explained Kalmin.
Although Kalmin had a great season himself, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the team, who finished with a record of three wins and two losses and came one game away from elimination in the qualifying round — but they never let go of their hope. Kalmin spoke to the fight in the team, praising his teammates for never letting go.
“I think that the season had a lot of ups and downs and there were a lot of opportunities for us to quit or give up, but this team really persevered and we came together as a group,” said Kalmin.
Kalmin stressed how proud he was of the team and the silver medal that they brought home, but remains hungry for more after getting ever so close to the gold.
“I’m proud of the team and the year we had, with us overcoming everything that we overcame, especially with what happened in the regional. I’m proud of the accomplishment we had, but I want to come back next year and finish the job [and] win it all,” explained Kalmin.
The team overcame a lot to get to where they were. Going into the regional, not only were they on the brink of elimination after losing the first two games on Saturday Oct. 10, but they were also still in shock over an injury to two of their teammates.
During their second game on Oct. 10, Mark Zanette and Nicholas Velocci struck one another in a scary collision and ended up leaving the field in an ambulance. Not only were the two players unable to contribute to the team going forward, but it left their teammates extremely emotional and distressed. Fortunately, this event turned into motivation for the squad, who needed to win both Sunday games to avoid elimination.
“Saturday was a shock to us. Seeing what happened was hard, I had tears in my eyes. A lot of the guys had tears in their eyes . . . Going into Sunday, our choice was either [to] be done, or [to] come back, win two games and continue the season. Going back on that bus Sunday morning, we knew we were going to win. No one on our team ever said anything [possibly losing]. We were going to do it for Nick and for Mark,” said Kalmin.
The team came through on their promise, qualifying for the playoffs and finishing their season with a silver medal, their second highest ranking since winning the gold in 2008.
By Andrew Fayed, Contributor
Nikolas Motruk knew that the McMaster Marauders’ men’s baseball team would come out strong in their four-game opening weekend, but even the fourth-year veteran admits that the team outperformed even their own high expectations for themselves. With an absolutely incredible 58 runs in four games, it’s safe to say that the rest of the league has been put on notice, that this year, the Marauders have come to play.
“When I started in my first year, we had a total of four wins, and it really didn’t look promising. We had five wins the next year before we finally had a winning record at 10-8 last year which was the first time we had a winning record in five years. So, this year we definitely expected to come out stronger than ever, but maybe not quite as strong as we did,” says Motruk with a laugh.
The four games played this past weekend came against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, the Ryerson Rams, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton University Ravens.
“We’ve had a bit of a rivalry with them [UofT] over the past few years, last year they actually walked us off in an elimination game in the Ontario University Athletics championship, so we were definitely hungry for them. We knew we had to come out strong and set the tone for the weekend, and we scored five in the first inning,” Motruk said.
Motruk’s performance this past weekend jumped off the stat sheet going 9-15 from the plate, with five extra base hits, and 10 runs batted in. Motruk was not only a strong player on the men’s baseball team, but it was enough for him to capture the prestigious Pita Pit Male Athlete of the Week award. Motruk credits his ability to stay calm under pressure and his confidence in his batting abilities as the keys to his monumental success.
“You can never let baseball get to your head. You always have to keep the same approach and stay confident at the plate. I went into every at bat knowing what the pitcher was going to throw at me and knowing that I had a job to do. When your team is playing well, there are always runners on base so those RBI’s are more of a team stat,” said Motruk.
When questioned on being Male Athlete of the Week, Motruk was quick to build up his team and his sport instead of focusing on himself.
“It’s not so much of a me thing, I just feel so good for the team that now we’re finally getting this recognition. It’s really a huge step forward for the team in general and for baseball as a university sport. Some students don’t even know that we have a baseball team, so this kind of recognition is really cool,” Motruk noted.
As a four-year veteran, Motruk has been through it all with the marauders’ baseball team. But back in his first year, Motruk was initially worried about the difference in workload from high school to university as a mechanical engineering student and was very hesitant about playing baseball for the Marauders at all.
“I didn’t really want to play baseball at first, I thought that students were all set up to fail and the schedules were so hectic, I thought that there was no way I could do this. I have to give credit to my parents who really motivated me to give it a shot, and I joined the team. I played three innings in my first year, and that was definitely an eye-opening experience. That really motivated me, even more, to get better. I pushed myself hard over the next couple of years, and here we are today,” Motruk added.
You can see Motruk and the Marauders next on Sept. 28 as they face the Queens University Gaels and York University Lions doubleheader in Kitchener.
Nikolas Motruk (8) OF