Jay Warford scampers to third base during a senior baseball league game between his Supplement Shack Junior Barons and the West Side Monarchs Tuesday at Jubilee Field. — Star photo by Chris Quigley
Jay Warford was finding his way in the Corner Brook minor baseball system as he watched the Corner Brook Barons lose to the St. John’s Capitals 13 years in a row in the battle for senior A baseball supremacy.
It wasn’t a great time for the baseball commmunity on the senior level as frustration mounted over the years, but it wasn’t too bad for Warford because he was fortunate enough to win provincial minor baseball titles in every division before graduating from the ranks.
The Barons put an end to the drought last summer when they beat the Capitals in five games in the best-of seven final affair.
It was also Warford’s first chance to have a say in the outcome of the provincial rivals as he made his debut with the Barons. He proved to be an impact player, delivering key hits with men in scoring position, and was a standout on defence with a strong arm from right field.
“Last year I was fortunate enough to get a lot of innings with the Barons and I was really thankful for that,” Warford said. “Luckily, with my at-bats and stuff I did have, I did play really well in that tournament and I’m just hoping that this year I can repeat on the success I had last year.”
He thought it was pretty cool to win the title in his first year knowing so many teammates had been through the ringer for those 13 long years of trying to turn the tables on the mighty Capitals.
He believes the team really got a confidence boost from winning the first game of the series on the road and never looked back afterwards as all hands came ready to play. He said the Barons had a good mix of seasoned veterans surrounded by a group of young players who had success at various levels of their minor baseball careers.
It’s a mix he hopes will get the job done again as the Barons now have to defend the crown against what is expected to be a hungry Capitals team that boasted 25 players on the roster for the provincial B tournament in Mount Pearl.
He’s been around long enough to know winning a title is a tough thing to do, but defending it is an even bigger assignment, so it will be a grind to control the offensive-minded Capitals.
The son of Wade and Mary Warford has respect for the opposition, but beams with confidence when he realizes the Barons will feature a few new faces in the mix to help them. That’s going to be something the team will be banking on because they won’t have the luxury of picking up players from other centres like they did last year when they won the B and the right to play the Caps.
This time around, it’s the Capitals with the right to strengthen the roster with a few arms and a guy or two who can handle the bat.
“Last year our pick-up players played pretty key roles,” he said. “But, this year now we’ve got more players from Corner Brook coming out. Our confidence is still there and we have a few new faces who can help us out. We know we got to play good, but it’s definitely doable to win again.”
He may be only 19, but the number of baseball championships under his belt is impressive. The only championship that has eluded him has been the provincial junior baseball crown.
That’s on his agenda this weekend.
He will be in the lineup as his Supplement Shack Junior Barons play host to the five-team provincial Molson junior baseball tournament.