Coach Frank Humber is glad to see the Corner Brook Barons holding a 2-1 advantage against the St. John’s Capitals with the series shifting to the east coast this weekend, but he discovered an obvious weakness in the group that he believes has to be fixed before Game 4.
The Barons hold a 2-1 lead over the Capitals in the provincial senior A baseball final after a great start to the series at home. The balance of the series, which resumes with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday 2 p.m. in St. John’s, will be played at St. Pat’s Ball Park.
Humber was pleased with how his pitching staff was able to contain the hitting prowess of the defending champions and he liked the way the defence came up big to give the pitching staff the support they needed.
What he wasn’t happy about was the offensive production of the group. He wasn’t impressed with the number of times he saw a player take a bad swing or chase a pitch outside the strike zone and that’s something he believes will need to be changed if the Barons want to make a serious run at dethroning the champions.
He can live with guys hitting the ball on the nose and the opposition making the out, but he finds it tough when his players aren’t getting quality swings on the ball.
“Just not squaring up enough baseballs and just not hitting it hard enough,” Humber said earlier this week.
More timely hitting will be a key if his team is going to win the series. Humber looked back at Game 2 of the series as an example of how his team needs to be better with the sticks.
In Game 2, the Barons pushed eight runs across in the first inning and ended up winning the game 8-4 after letting the red and white claw their way back into the game.
After chasing starter Ryan Morgan after one inning, the Barons were limited to one hit over the next innings with Dan Rice — not one of the Capitals regular pitchers — keeping his team within grasp of a comeback with a dominant relief appearance.
“We should have scored 16 that night and we shouldn’t have been going into the sixth and seventh inning pulling our hair nervous about them coming back,” Humber said, noting timely hitting on the road will be huge with the Capitals expected to be tougher at home with Scott Goosney and Dan Connors expected to be in the lineup for the Caps after missing the first three games.
Catcher Greg Whelan agrees with his coach there were times when the Barons could have cashed in runs and didn’t, but he liked how the team played overall and the group was quite happy to win two and head to St. John’s with a lead in the series.
“Timely hitting wasn’t there but we managed to scrape together the first two wins and hopefully our hitting comes together in St. John’s,” he said.
The shift in the series means the Capitals will be bolstered with the addition of stalwart pitchers Scott Goosney and Dan Connors. He said Ben Murphy and Matt Murphy pitched well for the Capitals and they pulled out a couple of wins so he doesn’t think his team is at a big disadvantage on the road.
“We’re going to have to hit the ball no matter who pitches against us to score runs,” Whelan said. “We know they’re going to be able to score runs so we’re going to have to put up three or four runs if we want to have a chance to win.”
With the Barons up 2-1, Whelan believes his team has to make sure they get at least one win on Saturday to put the pressure on the Caps, but he really doesn’t want to be on the field Sunday with the Capitals still showing life.
“It would be nice to win two on Saturday and be able to party that night,” he said.