By John DeCoste
For the first time in many years – and maybe ever – it will be the Sydney Sooners and Kentville Wildcats in the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League final.
The Sooners advanced by defeating the defending champions, Dartmouth Moosehead Dry, three games to two in their semi-final series.
Wildcats head coach Ian Mosher and Sooners’ head coach Jim (Rico) MacEachern are both NSSBL ‘originals’ - both were part of the league in its inaugural season in 1977.
“I don’t recall Rico and I have ever coached against each other in the finals,” Mosher said. “We may have played against each other in the finals, maybe in the early 80s.” He quipped, “it’s so long ago, neither of us would probably remember.”
Sydney was the third place team in the regular season. The Wildcats finished in fourth, but are a solid team that has played well in recent weeks.
The season series between the two consisted of seven games, with an eighth scheduled game postponed due to the weather and not rescheduled.
The Wildcats went 3-0 at Memorial Park, but lost three of four in Sydney where four of the seven final series games will be played if it ends up going the distance.
The series will be “a 2-3-2 format” with the first two games this weekend in Sydney and games three through five Oct. 5-6 in Kentville.
“I’d expect to have the schedule finalized within the next couple of days,” he said.
He feels Kentville has more pitching depth, but given that the series “will take three weeks to play, all on weekends,” that might end up being cancelled out by Sydney “being able to roll the same pitchers out there, over and over.”
The entire NSSBL “was the closest it has been in years this season,” with very little to choose between the top four teams. With the first and second place finishers now eliminated in favour of third and fourth, all indications are for an entertaining series.
The Wildcats are “maybe a little better than we were a year ago,” Mosher said, due in large part of the development of Kentville’s young players.
Sydney, on the other hand, “is the most improved team in the league,” and Paul Doucette “may be the best pitcher in the province. In order to win, we’re going to have to beat him, there’s no doubt of that.”
At the same time, Kentville has plenty of experienced veteran talent and young players like Codey Shrider, Colby Turple and Jake Lonar “are likely to be instrumental in what success we have this weekend,” he added.