Truro D&D Bookkeeping Bearcats were to play their first game of the intermediate AA provincial baseball championship last night at 7 p.m. against Pictou County Royals.
Other teams in the hunt for the Nova Scotia title are the host Shelburne County Schooners and Hammonds Plains A’s.
With play taking place at the F A Brennan Field in Clarks Harbour, the Bearcats play the host Schooners today at 10 a.m. while meeting Hammonds Plains at 6 p.m. The round robin format has championship games scheduled for Sunday at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.
“I believe we have a very good chance this weekend at provincials,” Mitchell LeBlanc, 20, an outfielder from Truro, said. “The teams all appear to be fairly even. We’re going to this tournament believing we have a chance to win.”
Mitchell is one of a number of young ball players being brought along by the Bearcats in their inaugural season. Other local players include his brother Mathew, 19, Chris Richards, 19 and Brandon Betts, 20. From Amherst come league all-star pitcher and gold glove pitcher Logan Dowe, 21, and outstanding catcher Morgan Jobes, 19.
A youth councilor with the Truro Boys and Girls Club this summer, Mitchell will study criminology this fall at Saint Mary’s University.
“My brother Mathew is in his second year at Saint Mary’s taking a business degree,” Mitchell said. “Mathew plays baseball for Saint Mary’s and I plan to try out for the team as well.”
Talking further of his enjoyment for playing baseball, Mitchell touched on important issues.
“There really wasn’t any place for me to play baseball locally since 2011. We have players on our team, some just coming out of midget, who probably wouldn’t be playing baseball this year if not for this team. Not every young player can make the jump to play in the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League, so this
intermediate Truro D&D Bookkeeping Bearcats team is serving a real purpose.”
Mitchell, who talking baseball with is like talking to a seasoned veteran, added:
“This has really been an exceptional year, for me to get to play with a ball player the calibre of Joe MacPherson, this has been a really good baseball experience. It’s been a big help the veterans we have playing with our young ball players, they serve as great mentors.”
Gordie LeBlanc, Mitchell and Mathew’s father, is part of the team’s three-man coaching staff, which includes Bill Jobes and Craig Betts.
Gordie explained how the team had entered the eight-team Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League, finishing in fifth place with a record of 9-16. The 15-year baseball coach recalled their early season outlook.
“We started the season trying to be realistic and knowing we were a first year team. Our initial plan was to bring young ball players along so that they would have a chance to move up to the next level, which is senior. We added a few veteran players who not only made us competitive but who served as great mentors for our young ball players.
“Joe MacPherson has been with us all season. Joe played senior baseball for a long time, he’s been really great in working with our younger players. Our other veteran players are outfielder Tony Stewart, infielder Scott Baillie and centerfielder Chris Priest, these veteran ball players have played a very important part with this team this year.”
MacPherson, a former 18-year senior star with Truro Bearcats, plays a steady game at third base for the first-year club and still swings a very dangerous bat.
“It’s important to have a place for our young ball players to play after they finish midget ball,” MacPherson, 37, of Truro, said. “This is pretty much a big part of this team being formed. “I found it tough in the early going as I haven’t played since
2013, finally, things started coming around. Looking ahead to provincials on the weekend, my main objective is for everyone to have fun playing baseball. We’ve really grown as a group during the season and this championship tournament will
allow us to showcase everything we’ve learned throughout the year.”
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.