Veitch’s Physiotherapy Aces’ Jordan Kennedy, right, avoids the tag of Curling Marlins’ Wayne Hicks during play at Jubilee Field Tuesday. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
At just 22 years of age, Mark McWhirter is already an eight-year veteran of the Corner Brook Molson Senior Baseball League.
He broke in — albeit in limited action — with the Junior Barons in 2006, though he spent six of the following seven seasons with the Veitch’s Physiotherapy Aces.
This year he finds himself on the expansion Curling Marlins, a team that already had a core group in place, but needed pitching help. McWhirter was assigned to the team.
“I was actually kind of excited to come over for the fact I’ll be pitching more innings now,” he said. “We don’t have many pitchers here right now, so it’s a good opportunity for me.”
Though he’s one of the youngest members of the team, he’s the most experienced baseball player. Despite that, he said he isn’t really in a leadership role, since the majority of the team consists of a close-knit group that plays softball together.
“They already have their leaders,” he said. “But pitching-wise, when some of the guys come in that haven’t thrown before, I’m happy to offer up some tips and things they might not have been aware of.
“Other than that, I’m just happy to be a part of the group right now.”
McWhirter was on first base at Jubilee Field Tuesday night, not the mound, as the Marlins fell 11-0 in a five-inning mercy-rule decision to the Aces.
He knew there would be nights like this with an expansion outfit, but he said the same result befalls many teams at this time of year.
“There’s going to be games like this for all teams early in the season,” he said. “I’ve lost games like this on every team I’ve ever played on.
“We’re going to have ups and downs early on,” he continued. “But we’ve shown that we can compete already, so we’ll be fine.”
The Aces started scoring in the bottom of the first inning, when Steve Kelly crossed the plate after Mark Lombard reached on an error.
Going into the bottom of the third, the score was still stuck at 1-0.
But the third was a disaster for the Marlins.
Lombard drove Greg Whelan and Rob George in with a single, before Lombard was brought home by a Hynes double. Hynes then cashed in following a single from Ryan Park, while Jordan Kennedy scored after Rob Myrden reached on another fielding error. Glen Seaborn made it 7-0 after scoring on a passed ball, then Myrden scored off a George double before the Marlins finally got out of the inning, now down 8-0.
The Marlins had no answer in the top of the fourth, and the Aces quickly went back to work with the bats, with Hynes doubling to allow Lombard to score again. Hynes scored on a subsequent error, then Seaborn, who had reached on a walk, crossed the plate thanks to a single from Myrden.
“There’s no doubt our bats are good, one through nine,” said Hynes. “You put the ball in play and see what happens — luckily for us, we got the bounces tonight.”
Hynes was also instrumental in the win on the mound, allowing just three hits over five innings, with five strikeouts.
Sean Anderson threw three innings for the Marlins, giving up eight runs — four earned — on six hits, with three walks and two strikeouts. Greg Gallant tossed one inning, striking out two and walking two, while allowing three runs — one earned — on two hits.
Hynes went 2-for-3 at the dish, with two runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases. Lombard was 1-for-2 with a walk, three RBIs, two runs and two stolen bases. Myrden went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Cory Hurley’s 1-for-3 effort with a stolen base was the biggest bright spot for the Marlins.
Hynes sees potential in the league’s newest squad, but says it will take time for everything to fall into place.
“No doubt, they can throw the ball and swing the bat, but it’s just the little things they need to tweak up on,” he said. “It’s only early in the year and there’s a long way to go yet.”
McWhirter echoed those sentiments and said the team needs to improve on offence and consistency in the field.
“Everybody has to make some adjustments at the plate ... that’ll come around as the season goes on,” he said. “But if we can cut down the runs against, we won’t have to score as many and we’ll be competitive.”
Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Marlins 0 0 0 0 0 X X 0 3 4
Aces 1 0 7 3 X X X 11 8 1