© Submitted photo
The CBN Bulldogs peewee AAA team are in the midst of preparing for the National Peewee Atlantic Championships being held in Fredericton, New Brunswick on Sept. 5-8. Members of the team are: front (l-r) — Lucas Bishop, Aaron Osborne, Lucas Adams, Josh Mercer, Josh Adams, Colin Jones, Trent Drover and Colby Adams; back — coach Brady Adams, Mitchell Hunt, Nick Donovan, coach Scott Adams, Samantha Pike, Jenna Lee Ralph and coach Jeff Drover. Missing from the photo is coach Geoff Drover.
It is a blustery evening on the ball field in Upper Island Cove on Aug. 21.
With the wind blowing toward the valley below the Conception Bay North peewee AAA team is in a dogfight, pardon the pun, with their bantam AA counterparts.
Donned in their familiar burgundy jerseys, the peewees are threatening with two runners on base and only one out.
Squinting against the fading sun, second baseman Nick Donovan takes his place in the batter’s box. Digging his spikes in, Donovan settles into his batting stance and prepares for the first pitch from bantam pitcher Tyler Lundrigan.
As Lundrigan raises his left leg, signalling the start of his delivery towards the plate, Donovan squares his shoulders to the mound and drops down a picture perfect bunt, moving both of his teammates up a base and setting the table for the hitter behind him.
It is a smart, selfless baseball play Donovan and shows the overall intelligence for the game that these players have.
There are other plays too that show a team IQ that is greatly beyond the run of the mill peewee team.
On this night, the peewee team would drop the decision to their older opponents but held their own against the bigger team.
The peewee team has been using games like this one to prepare for its upcoming trip to the National Peewee Atlantic Championships being held in Fredericton, New Brunswick on Sept. 5-8.
“I’m excited to go,” said fielder Samantha Pike minutes after leaving the mound
The Bulldogs earned the right to represent after a top-two finish at the provincial peewee AAA tournament in Gander, Aug. 9-11.
CBN will be joining the St. John’s Caps as the Newfoundland and Labrador representatives at the Atlantic tourney after the two teams clashed in the final of the AAA tourney.
Although the Caps went on to win 10-0, it did nothing to diminish the fact that the Bulldogs are the second-ranked team peewee team in the province heading into the Atlantic tournament.
At the tournament, CBN will square off with teams from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Rest of the tourney
In Gander, the Bulldogs started their march to the championship with a 17-7 victory over the host Pilots.
Next up, were the Corner Brook Barons. After falling behind early, CBN clawed its way back and ended up with a 6-5 come from behind victory.
With a berth in the championship and the Atlantic championships on the line, the Bulldogs came out swinging against the Mount Pearl Blazers.
After jumping out to a big lead, the Blazers fought back, but the Bulldogs weathered the storm and finished with a 13-5 victory.
With the victory, CBN secured a top-two finish and its trip to the Atlantic tourney.
“It was like waking up on Christmas morning,” said Pike upon learning of the teams impending trip.
The Bulldogs are in the midst of raising money to off set the travel costs for the tourney.
This has included toll bridges, ticket draws, as well as other fundraising efforts.
The team has also been fine-tuning its game to advance of the high skill level it will face at the next level.
Many of the players have been on this stage before having been a part of the 2011 mosquito AA team that came within one run of reaching the finals in the Atlantic championships in that year.
Coach Scott Adams said confidence will once the tournament gets underway.
"When our players believe they can win, they're a tough group to play against," he said. "If we can conquer the mental side of the game, our skill set is strong."
As with every tournament on this level, the players get the chance to travel and play baseball at the same time.
“I’m excited to go away and play baseball,” said Colin Jones.
Guided by coaches Scott Adams, Jeff Drover, Brady Adams and Craig Mercer, members of the team are: Mitchell Hunt, Nick Donovan, Samantha Pike, Jenna Lee Ralph, Lucas Bishop, Aaron Osborne, Lucas Adams, Josh Mercer, Josh Adams, Colin Jones, Trent Drover and Colby Adams.
Meanwhile, the bantam AA team will be travelling to the Atlantic bantam tournament in Cardiganm, PEI on Sept. 13-15.