CORNER BROOK The quest to be the best in the Corner Brook Molson Senior Baseball League begins Thursday night.
The following is a look at both best-of-three semifinal series, with comments from those who play the game (2012 won-loss records in parenthesis):
Veitch’s Hawks (15-6) vs First Choice Vision Junior Barons (5-16)
Early in the year, it appeared the baby Barons would be in the hunt for first place all season long, while the Hawks would finally struggle to soar above the rest of the pack.
By the end of the season, however, roster defections from the junior club, due to school and other baseball commitments, left them in the basement. The Hawks, meanwhile, picked up the pace and overtook the West Side Monarchs for first place in the league standings.
Alexander says there’s no substitute for experience, especially in close games, which might seem like the Junior Barons are the perfect first-round opponent for the veteran-laden Hawks. Not necessarily, he warns.
“Experience is important, but they’ve got a dangerous young team,” he said. “We’re only talking two out of three here, so anything can happen. They might be missing some key guys, but you’ve got to respect their team and play hard for seven innings.”
Junior Barons’ Travis Taylor admits his team will be missing a few guys who have left for school, but a solid group remains. Still, he knows defeating the Hawks is a tall order.
“We’re going to need to play errorless ball, for one thing,” he said. “And we’ve got to start hitting because they’re the powerhouse team. We’ll have to play pretty much perfect in order to beat them.”
Luckily for the baby Barons, they have had their “pretty much perfect” moments this season, which gives Taylor and his teammates reason to believe.
The series begins Thursday night.
West Side Monarchs (14-7) vs Health and Performance Aces (8-13)
The Monarchs seemed to be destined to grab the regular season crown away from the Hawks, reeling off a 14-4 record — including an eight-game winning streak — after an 0-3 start to the season. They fell just short though, and now look to take the prize that really matters instead.
“We’re confident,” said Rob Park. “We basically turned our season around after the provincial club tournament and went strong until the end of the season.
“We’ve had more consistent hitting, more consistent pitching and we’ve been getting clutch plays,” he added.
It was only a few years back the Aces snapped a long streak of futility by winning the senior league title, but they haven’t looked much like world beaters this year. A late surge still gives Rob Myrden hope something big could be on the horizon.
“We played our last three or four games very, very well,” he said. “It was just one bad inning that killed us a lot of times anyway. We didn’t get shelled a whole lot of times any time we lost.
“In the last few games we were making most of the plays and that’s a start,” he added. “It’s the age-old story that if you can pitch well and play well on defence, hopefully three or four runs will win the game for you.”
The two teams lock horns for Game 1 on Friday night.