By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
After 27 years as head coach of the Durham Lords baseball team, Sam Dempster is calling it a career after winning his second national championship.
The Lords claimed the National College Baseball Championship gold medal when the squad hit the diamond and beat the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack in extra innings, 2-1.
The tournament, which was in Kamloops, BC, was hosted by the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack.
The victory marked the second national championship in the program’s history as the Lords also won in 2011.
Dempster was in high spirits coming off the gold medal victory.
“When the season started out 2-6, it looked pretty bleak,” quips Dempster. “But, I think it’s just a great accomplishment by the players, I just have to give all the credit to them and our assistant coaches.”
After starting so slowly, Dempster didn’t feel certain the team would even make the playoffs, let alone the national championship.
But everything changed on a rainy day against the George Brown Huskies.
“A lot of the guys felt they didn’t want to play the game, and we ended up playing, and actually winning, and I think that’s where it all started, right then and there,” he explains.
He believes the team faced a lot of adversity, and came out of it stronger players.
After winning the championship, the team is feeling “on top of the world” according to Dempster.
“[President Don Lovisa] is going to take them out to lunch…, and they’ve been sizing for championship rings and all that good stuff, so I’m sure they’re right on top of everything,” he says.
Dempster explains since this is the last time he will have an opportunity to win a championship of any kind, this one is special and he feels confident about moving on.
“It’s time to turn it over to somebody younger, and I’m feeling good about that,” he says.
First year catcher Fernando Suarez Muniz was named the championship MVP – another accolade after he was the 2019 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association batting champion after hitting .450, with 12 doubles and 17 RBIs in 17 games played this season.
He knocked in the Lords’ first run of the final game with a double to left field, and scored the winning run in the eighth inning.
However, Dempster gives the whole team credit for the win, and this year’s success.
“Our whole infield played tremendous all season, and our centre fielder, and our left fielder were just outstanding – I’m not going to mention any names, but they’ll know who they are,” he says, while also crediting their catcher and the pitching staff. “You just can’t single out anybody, it’s a total team effort.”