The lone Island representative in the Ray Carter Cup – Baseball Canada’s national 15-under championship – will play in a very tough Pool A with New Brunswick and perennial powerhouses British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.
“Partly responsible (for that) is Billy Dow, who I coach with throughout the year with our (Capital District) bantam AAAs,” said Team P.E.I. head coach Kevin MacLean. “Billy was head coach of the (P.E.I.) team two years ago that participated in (the bantam nationals in) Vaughan, and won the bronze medal. That is part of the contributing reason we are in Pool A.”
However, Team P.E.I. is not making excuses.
“Teams before used to say we just want to keep it close, but P.E.I. has closed the gap in baseball,” said MacLean. “We just don’t want to keep it close anymore.
“We believe we deserve to be there, not just as a host. . . We have aspirations of being very competitive and making it to that Saturday night medal round. . . The draw is tough, but we are up for the challenge.”
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Play begins Thursday
The 10-team tournament begins at Queen Elizabeth Park in Summerside on Thursday, and continues until Sunday evening. Alberta, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba round out the field in Pool B.
“It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said MacLean. “I’ve told them it’s the only time that this select group of players will ever play together.
“It’s possibly going to be one of the only times they play in front of friends and family, and have that opportunity to play at home on a national stage. It’s exciting for them, it’s exciting for the coaching staff and we hope to see a lot of support out at the field for Team P.E.I.”
The Island squad consists of 17 players from all four teams in the P.E.I. Bantam AAA Baseball League – Eastern, Capital District, Mid-Isle and Western. The team’s selection process started with indoor identification camps in April. The final roster breakdown is nine second-year players born in 2002, and eight first-year players born in 2003.
“We are a very young team, but we took the most talented 17 players we could see, and it didn’t matter if they were first- or second-year players,” said MacLean. “We put together a team we feel is going to be most successful.”
When asked what style of play fans can expect to see, MacLean said Team P.E.I. will stress a “small ball” philosophy.
“Our approach is we are going to play sound defensively and we need good solid pitching,” he continued. “We can’t give extra bases as far as walks and errors. We are not going to be a big powerhouse team, we realize that.
“We are going to play old-style small ball – base hits, bunting and execution, stealing bases and being aggressive, hopefully without giving up too many outs.”
Round-robin schedule for Ray Carter Cup:
9 a.m. – N.S. vs. N.L. (VIV Field).
11:30 a.m. – Que. vs. Ont. (Legends Field).
Noon – P.E.I. vs. B.C. (VIV Field).
2:30 p.m. – N.S. vs. Alta. (Legends Field).
3 p.m. – Sask. vs. Man. (VIV Field).
6 p.m. – Opening ceremonies (VIV Field).
7:30p.m. – B.C. vs. Que. (Legends Field); N.B. vs. P.EI. (VIV Field).
9 a.m. – Sask. vs. N.S. (Legends Field).
9:30 a.m. – Man. vs. Alta. (VIV Field).
Noon – B.C. vs. Ont. (Legends Field).
12:30 p.m. – Que. vs. N.B. (VIV Field).
3 p.m. – N.L. vs. Man. (Legends Field).
3:30 p.m. – Alta. vs. Sask. (VIV Field).
6:30 p.m. – Ont. vs. P.E.I. (VIV Field).
8 a.m. – N.B. vs. B.C. (Legends Field).
8:30 a.m. – N.L. vs. Sask. (VIV Field).
11 a.m. – Man. vs. N.S. (Legends Field).
11:30 a.m. – P.E.I. vs. Que. (VIV Field).
2 p.m. – Alta. vs. N.L. (Legends Field).
2:30 p.m. – Ont. vs. N.B. (VIV Field).
Note: Playoff round starts Saturday night.