© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Josh Kelly of the Charlottetown Gaudet's Auto Body Islanders makes it back to first base before Brad Gallant, first baseman for the Chatham Ironmen, can make the tag during Game 4 of the semifinal of the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League Tuesday night in Charlottetown.
Tall, gangling and nervous, Jake Keating gained sufficient confidence to shut out the Charlottetown Islanders in his first ever senior baseball game Tuesday.
He pitched the entire game for the Chatham Ironmen as they defeated the Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders 7-0 at Memorial Field to sweep the best-of-seven New Brunswick Senior Baseball League semifinal in four games.
Chatham will play either the Hub City Brewers or the Fredericton Royals in the final. Fredericton holds a 3-1 lead after defeating the Moncton-based Brewers 10-2 on Tuesday. Game 5 is tonight in Fredericton.
Every player on the Chatham roster had at least one hit on Tuesday, a total of 17 in all. That included four hits that drove in two runs in the top of the first inning to set the tone for the night.
The Islanders managed its first hit in the fourth and totalled four the entire game, played under a clear, windless sky.
“I’m a second-year junior player‚ and they called me up to come out and play,” Keating said after the game. “The boys worked hard behind me and played good ‘D’ and came out with the win and the big shutout.
"I was quite shaky there starting out the first couple of innings," Keating added. "I couldn't find my strike zone as my nerves were getting up there, but as the game went on I started to get my confidence back and (started) firing like I normally do."
In a battle of the Jakes, Jake Beck pitched 6 1/3 innings for the Islanders, giving up five runs on 15 hits and three walks before Taylor Larkin came in in relief.
Assistant coach Allison Macdonald found it hard to speak about the game afterwards.
“Every year now, for the last four years, we have a competitive team in the middle of the summer, and then at the end of August when playoffs start we lose two or three players and that causes us to move players around and all of sudden you are playing in the playoffs with a reduced roster and players playing out of position.”
The Islanders were without third baseman Jordan Duffy, who went back to Maine for college, and catcher Travis Gaudet went west for work. Rookie infielder Dylan McKenna is back in Alberta at school as well.
“Chatham improved all year long and they have good, young, fundamentally sound team and they will beat us in a best of seven, nine times out of 10,” said Macdonald. “The reason why we didn’t win any games, the reason why we didn’t hit, was because we played with a reduced roster and because players were playing out of position.”
The Islanders were uncertain participants in the league through last December but won approval to use five juniors to let them fielded a team this year. Macdoanld is looking to next year with a bit more confidence.
“Those juniors, saved us number wise, but they also saved us by contributing to the number of wins and success that we had,” he said.
Macdonald hopes Baseball P.E.I. will allow the team to keep the juniors for next year.
“There has to be a time, sometime, when we are going to be able to put a team on the field that is going to be able to get to the finals,” he said.
“We are still looking at two or three players for next year that will be leaving the end of August and that’s not fair to our fans and our sponsors.”
Chatham coach Greg Morris agreed the Islanders's loss of players hurt the series.
“We have a lot of respect for them but they were hampered by losing players,” said Morris.
“As far as we go, I thought that we swung the bat well the whole series,” he said. “We got a lot of hits. You saw it tonight.
“We have some good young ball players that are coming into their own and getting better every day.”