FRESH START

Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders en­ter play­offs loose and ready to go against Monc­ton

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders en­ter play­offs loose and ready to go against Monc­ton

Mor­gan Ma­cLean and his Char­lot­te­town Gaudet’s Auto Body Is­lan­ders are ready for the sec­ond sea­son to be­gin.

The Isles start the best-of-five New Brunswick Se­nior Base­ball League quar­ter­fi­nal tonight with a 7:30 p.m. game in Monc­ton with the Fisher Cats. The Is­lan­ders (1220) fin­ished last in the five-team league, three games back of the Fisher Cats (15-17).

“It’s all about just get­ting hot at the right time,” Ma­cLean said. “The stand­ings don’t re­ally mat­ter now. You just have to go out and play ball and win the games.”

The Is­lan­ders started the sea­son with­out their top five hit­ters from the 2016 lineup. It re­sulted in a 2-10 record, but as the guys got more com­fort­able with their roles and the team got health­ier, the squad went 10-10 the rest of the way.

The Is­lan­ders don’t have to look too far for an ex­am­ple of what is pos­si­ble de­spite fin­ish­ing low in the reg­u­lar sea­son stand­ings.

Monc­ton swept Char­lot­te­town in last year’s semi­fi­nal af­ter win­ning three straight to elim­i­nate Saint John in the quar­ter-fi­nal. The Fisher Cats lost the fi­nal in five games to the Fred­er­ic­ton Roy­als.

“They had noth­ing to lose . . . kind of the same way we’re go­ing into the play­offs this year,” Is­lan­ders head coach Keith Craswell said. “We have noth­ing to lose. We fin­ished last, but we’re go­ing to go out and have some fun, run the bases and try to make a few things hap­pen and get a cou­ple of Ws here early.”

Char­lot­te­town and Monc­ton split the first six games of their reg­u­lar sea­son match-up be­fore Monc­ton won the fi­nal two meet­ings to end the sea­son on Aug. 15 and 16.

“We didn’t re­ally fin­ish the way we wanted to, but I think we put that be­hind us and we’re just ready to go now,” Ma­cLean said. “We know we’ll prob­a­bly be see­ing (pitcher Sam) Lund. We saw him all year, we just have to be ready to hit and be a lit­tle ag­gres­sive in there.”

Brody McDon­ald, a key holdover from the 2015 squad that won the league ti­tle, said pitch­ing and de­fence would be key to the team’s suc­cess.

“We get a cou­ple of good starts and don’t make a whole lot of er­rors dur­ing the games, we should be fine,” he said.

The squad will be play­ing its first game in two weeks, as the league shut down for a week dur­ing the Cana­dian se­nior men’s cham­pi­onship.

“Some­times we do strug­gle with our bats af­ter tak­ing that week or two off, but hope­fully we can just play some small ball and get enough runs across to win us a cou­ple of ball games,” said McDon­ald.

The lefty pitched the first game of the na­tion­als for the Fred­er­ic­ton Roy­als be­fore leav­ing for a friend’s wed­ding. The Roy­als lost 5-3 to Bri­tish Columbia in Sun­day’s fi­nal.

The Is­lan­ders are fairly healthy, but the sta­tus of pitcher Jor­dan Steven­son, who led the team in hits this sea­son while play­ing third base, was not clear on Tuesday.

The New Glas­gow na­tive has been deal­ing with a hip/ groin in­jury, and Craswell said it might mean he is used out of the bullpen.

“His body will tell him when it’s time to play,” the bench boss said.

Char­lot­te­town has added four play­ers from the P.E.I. Ju­nior Is­lan­ders, in­clud­ing pitcher Spencer Horne, out­fielder Do­minique Ryan and in­field­ers Ryne MacIsaac and J.J. Oram.

The quar­ter-fi­nal win­ner will play the first-place Chatham Iron­men (19-13) in the semi­fi­nal while Saint John and Fred­er­ic­ton meet in the other semi.

FILE PHOTO

Rookie Grant Grady played in all 32 games for the Char­lot­te­town Gaudet’s Auto Body Is­lan­ders this sea­son. Grady and Brody McDon­ald were the only play­ers to ap­pear in each game.

Ma­cLean

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.