Two for one

Soon­ers open se­nior base­ball sea­son in Truro this week­end

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF sports@cb­post.com

En­ter­ing this sea­son Syd­ney Soon­ers man­ager Jim (Rico) McEach­ern wanted to add two things to his lineup — a left­handed pitcher and a big bat, prefer­ably from the left side of the plate, that could hit the long ball and ig­nite the team’s of­fence.

Well, he ad­dressed both needs, but with just one player.

While he won’t be on the ros­ter when the Soon­ers be­gin their sea­son on the road in Truro this week­end, McEach­ern said the ad­di­tion of Devin Ma­honey, a stand­out player with the NCAA Divi­sion 1 St. Louis Univer­sity Bil­likens, should bol­ster his team’s chances at an­other league cham­pi­onship.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing what kind of a sea­son h e can have and hope­fully he can be a big in­gre­di­ent that will give us an­other shot at chas­ing an­other ti­tle,” said McEach­ern, who ex­plained that he found out about Ma­honey through for­mer Sooner Tyler An­der­son, an Aus­tralian pitcher who played in Syd­ney a few sea­sons back and is now a pitch­ing coach­ing at St. Louis.

“I sort of reached out to him, ex­plained some of my pri­or­i­ties and he told me he had a great per­son who might well be able to achieve both facets of what I’m look­ing for. This par­tic­u­lar pitcher — this is very sel­dom seen in univer­sity Divi­sion 1 base­ball — when he doesn’t pitch, he bats.”

The 6-3, 215-pound south­paw from Pi­nole, Calif., was one of SLU’s best hit­ters and best pitch­ers as a ju­nior last year, lead­ing the team with a .331 bat­ting av­er­age while post­ing a 3.61 ERA on the mound with a 4-2 record, 44 strike­outs and 17 walks in 62.1 in­nings.

With 15 re­turn­ing play­ers, the Soon­ers were al­ready poised to chal­lenge for a league ti­tle. They won the cham­pi­onship in 2013 and 2014, but fell short the last two sea­sons af­ter cap­tur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son pen­nant both years.

“I think this year our pitch­ing is stronger, I don’t think our de­fence gets any weaker, and if any­thing, if we can get a few of the bats go­ing — maybe they were a lit­tle flat­ter than they should have been last year — I def­i­nitely think our of­fence will be that much stronger,” said McEach­ern.

Speed will also be a key for the Soon­ers, who de­spite steal­ing more bases than the rest of the five-team league com­bined, weren’t quite as larce­nous as McEach­ern would like.

“We weren’t as ag­gres­sive as we could have been and I def­i­nitely in­tend on putting that style back into our game,” he said. “A suc­cess­ful sea­son for me won’t be our third pen­nant in a row, a suc­cess­ful sea­son to me will be to be there in the fi­nals and be in the run­ning for an­other league ti­tle. I def­i­nitely think it can be in reach if we work hard enough at it.”

That work be­gins this week­end when the Soon­ers play the three games against the Truro Bearcats.

Ma­honey is ex­pected to join the team the fol­low­ing week­end when the Soon­ers again hit the road to take on the Hal­i­fax Pel­ham Mol­son Cana­di­ans on June 9 and June 10.

The Soon­ers don’t play in Syd­ney un­til June 16 when they host Truro for a twogame home­s­tand at Su­san MacEach­ern Memo­rial Ball Park.

Ma­honey

McEach­ern

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