Bearcats lock down playoff spot with win over Sooners

Ryan
Ryan Cooke
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TRURO – For the first time since 2009, the Truro Bearcats senior baseball club is heading to the playoffs.

The Bearcats clinched a postseason berth with their 10-9 win over the Sydney Sooners on Saturday, overcoming a late-game push to knock in the winning run in the eighth.

With the win, the character-filled Cats locked up a goal they set at the beginning of the year.

“It feels great, man, so good to be back after four years of missing out,” said co-coach Scott Baillie. “We told ourselves this is where we wanted to be at the beginning of the season, and now we’ve done it.”

A big difference to the team has been pitching, Baillie said, with a more complete effort. Last season, the Cats rotation consisted primarily of Josh Fushtey, who ate up more innings than any other pitcher in the league. This season, Fushtey has been effective in the same starting role while also having guys like John Chapman and Guy Pellerine to carry the load.

The importance of a balanced roster goes beyond the rotation, Baillie said, and into their batting order.

“We’ve had lots of night where the seven, eight and nine guys have combined for five or six hits, and the three/four hitters have had an off-night,” he said. “The guys do a great job of picking each other up.”

The win over Sydney was the Bearcats second of the weekend, having walked off the Halifax Pelham Molson Canadians in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday.

With the score locked at eights, Chapman walked to start off the inning, moved to second on a bunt, advanced to third and later took home on a wild pitch.

The pair of wins moved the Cats to within three games of the Canadians with six games left in the season. With the Dartmouth Dry out in front by 4.5 games, and the Sooners 2.5 back of the Cats, a first-round matchup between the rival Bearcats and Canadians is very possible.

“It would be an interesting series, that’s for sure,” Baillie said. “We took the season series against them, so we feel comfortable, but we’re confident matching up with any team in the league right now.”

Interesting is one way to put it.

The two teams duked it out seven times this season, with Truro winning four of them. The teams literally duked it out in a raucous 4-1 Cats win on July 22, which saw Truro’s Dan Bates suspended for the next six games.

Bates returned on Saturday in a big way, hitting a homerun while adding a double and five runs-batted-in for good measure.

As for the rest of the season, the Bearcats have their sights set on recapturing second place.

“Our goal right now is to get home-field advantage and grab that second spot,” Baillie said. “We’re not far out of it, so we’ll look for a big finish to lock it down.”

The Bearcats will be in action tonight, 7:30 p.m., against the Kentville Wildcats at TAAC Grounds, before heading to Sydney for a three-game weekend series.

Geographic location: Sydney

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