Mos­quito Bull­dogs con­clude suc­cess­ful sum­mer

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

The fin­ish of the Base­ball NL mos­quito AA pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships was not quite the sto­ry­book end­ing the Base­ball CBN Bull­dogs had in mind.

The teams had hopes of rep­re­sent­ing the province at the At­lantic tour­na­ment next month but were de­nied the op­por­tu­nity af­ter the Grand Falls-Wind­sor Braves de­feated the Bull­dogs 6-0 at the Ki­wa­nis Field in Kel­li­grews on Aug. 23.

The Braves got a spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance on the mound from starter Mitchell Dinn. The tour­na­ment MVP used a strong fast­ball and great con­trol to scat­ter a few hits across six in­nings as he du­eled the trio of Bull­dogs pitch­ers he faced. On top of that, Dinn drove in a run with a pair of hits at the plate.

Bull­dogs’ Owen Sparkes, Dy­lan Whe­lan and Chris­tian Rear­don matched Dinn pitch for pitch, but timely hit­ting pushed Grand Falls-Wind­sor over the top.

De­spite the sil­ver show­ing, the medal capped an im­pres­sive sea­son for the pint-sized Bull­dogs. It was the sev­enth tour­na­ment for the crowd from CBN and their sev­enth medal show­ing on the sea­son.

The tour­na­ments took the team to most ma­jor pro­vin­cial base­ball cen­tres in­clud­ing Conception Bay South (twice), St. John’s, Par­adise, Mount Pearl, CBN and Cor­ner Brook and an im­pres­sive record of 21-9-1. That in­cluded the team’s 4-1 record in the pro­vin­cial tour­na­ment.

The break­down goes like this — two gold, four sil­ver and one bronze.

“We didn’t re­ally know what to ex­pect. No one knew what to ex­pect this sum­mer,” said coach Dean Whe­lan. “That’s not too shabby of a record.”

Whe­lan, along with fel­low coaches Josh Mercer and Cai­ley Drover cer­tainly were not sure they’d see a sum­mer that in­cluded a string of Sun­day game days and cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ances.

“There is a big com­mit­ment level that comes with trav­el­ling for seven week­ends,” said Whe­lan. “That’s a big part of it.”

Con­fi­dence is a funny thing

Con­fi­dence can work in ev­ery team’s favour when the play­ers be­lieve in what they’re do­ing and in their abil­i­ties.

Af­ter the first tour­na­ment fi­nal ap­pear­ance, the Bull­dogs play­ers started be­liev­ing they were bound for Sun­day base­ball in ev­ery tour­na­ment they played in.

“The play­ers started be­liev­ing in them­selves,” said Whe­lan. “They felt they had a chance ev­ery week­end and were ready to take these teams on. They started ex­pect­ing to go into tour­na­ments and be in con­tention.”

Com­pet­ing with large as­so­ci­a­tions

This sea­son’s suc­cess can be seen as an in­di­ca­tor of the tal­ent level that ex­ists within the catch­ment area of the Bull­dogs.

The mos­quito group had just 24 play­ers register for the 2015 sea­son, a stark con­trast from their op­po­nents. At times, they were run­ning up against as­so­ci­a­tions with up­wards to 150 mos­quito play­ers signed up.

“To go and com­pete with these larger cen­tres, there are lots of tal­ented kids in this area,” said Whe­lan.

As the sum­mer pro­gressed for the Bull­dogs, the fun­da­men­tals of the game started to be­come a bit clearer. From en­sur­ing they stayed on a base af­ter a hit or throw­ing to the right cut off per- son when in the out­field, the play­ers started ex­hibit­ing a greater un­der­stand­ing of the game as the in­nings started to pile up.

“We got con­tri­bu­tions from ev­ery­one,” said Whe­lan. “The play­ers grew as a group both at and away from the field. They were a great group.”

Alas, all good things must come to an end as they say. Even in base­ball, when the sum­mer turns to fall the good teams be­come fig­ments of the past.

“It was a great sum­mer that seemed to end a lit­tle to quickly,” Whe­lan lamented.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/PAMELA WHE­LAN

Play­ers’ skills im­proved as sum­mer went The CBN Bull­dogs and Grand Falls-Wind­sor Braves met in the fi­nal of the Base­ball NL mos­quito AA pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship held at Ki­wa­nis Field in Kel­li­grews Aug. 21-23. The Braves de­feated the Bull­dogs 6-0.

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