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Junior Wildcats looking forward to nationals

The Kentville junior AAA Wildcats qualified for the U-21 national tournament Aug, 13-17 in Regina with a second-place finish at a national elimination tournament July 17-18 in Kentville.
The Kentville junior AAA Wildcats qualified for the U-21 national tournament Aug, 13-17 in Regina with a second-place finish at a national elimination tournament July 17-18 in Kentville.

KENTVILLE - The Kentville junior AAA Wildcats are looking forward to being able to represent Nova Scotia at the Baseball Canada 21U national championship in Regina, SK.

The Wildcats punched their tickets to nationals with a runner-up finish behind Dartmouth at a national elimination tournament earlier this summer in Kentville.

A veteran team with several players in their final year of junior eligibility, the Wildcats added a handful of players from HRM - including Mitchell Bunker, Nick Barrett, Keegan Gaskell, Grant Ruffinengo and Ryan MacDonald - at the start of the season to enhance an already talented roster.

In addition, the Wildcats picked up Jordan Pelham from the Halifax Mets to bolster the lineup at nationals.

 

Recent win

The Wildcats enter nationals with a 10-4-1 record in league play. In the most recent game Aug. 5 in Halifax, the Wildcats scored a 7-4 win.

Bunker, the Wildcats’ starting pitcher, went five-and-two-thirds innings, and according to coach Lyle Boylen, “pitched well before running out of gas in the fifth.”

Boylen acknowledged the coaching staff “left (Bunker) in a couple of batters too long,” and Halifax ended up tying the score at four.

Justin Beach entered the game, finished the fifth inning and added a scoreless sixth. Bradley Fuller pitched the seventh to earn a save, with Beach picking up the win.

The score remained tied 4-4 entering the top of the seventh, but Kentville tallied three runs to provide the eventual winning margin.

Dryden Schofield had the key hit in the seventh with a two-run triple. MacDonald also had an RBI triple, and Mike Boylen walked twice and scored two runs.

 

Heading to nationals

The Wildcats are a mixture of players who have previous nationals experience and newcomers to the national stage.

“I couldn’t be happier than to qualify for nationals with the group we have this year,” says Christian Vogler of Berwick. “It’s surreal to finish my junior career with a national experience and to experience it one more time.”

For Ruffinengo, this will be his third trip to nationals. He played at nationals with the Bantam Selects and, along with Barrett and Gaskell, was part of the 2013 Nova Scotia Canada Games team.

“I’m looking forward to facing some serious competition once again,” he said. “Growing up playing ball in Nova Scotia, you play alongside and against the same guys every year. Going to a national tournament like this allows us the opportunity to face guys we have never seen before, and in some cases, guys you may have faced once or twice in the past.”

Ruffinengo says the 2015 Wildcats “are good ballplayers and a great bunch of guys, which makes it all that much more exciting.

“Win or lose, we’ll have a good time, but a piece of hardware to hang around our necks will ensure a great weekend to top off the amazing season we’re having.”

For Barrett, this will actually be his sixth nationals. Most recently, he played for Tri-County at the 21U nationals last summer in Dartmouth.

“I’m looking forward to competing against the best players in the country and seeing how far we can get this year in Regina,” he said. “For a lot of the guys, this is their first nationals, which has to be exciting.”

The Wildcats, Barrett said, are a tight-knit group.

“And that helps our game a lot. Overall, I think we have the pitching to go deep in the tournament, and the addition of Jordan Pelham is huge because it gives us even more depth,” he said.

Boylen said Aug. 4 the team is feeling pretty good

“But, we know we’ll have our work cut out for us. I can’t speak for the players, but my expectation is to be competitive in our games and try to win a couple,” he said.

“As usual, we’ll be playing teams from much larger urban areas than ours, and who have a much larger pool of players to draw from.”

The Wildcats leave for Regina Aug. 12 and will see their first action at 9 a.m. Aug. 13 against Manitoba.

Weblink http://old.baseball.ca/21u.

The Wildcats punched their tickets to nationals with a runner-up finish behind Dartmouth at a national elimination tournament earlier this summer in Kentville.

A veteran team with several players in their final year of junior eligibility, the Wildcats added a handful of players from HRM - including Mitchell Bunker, Nick Barrett, Keegan Gaskell, Grant Ruffinengo and Ryan MacDonald - at the start of the season to enhance an already talented roster.

In addition, the Wildcats picked up Jordan Pelham from the Halifax Mets to bolster the lineup at nationals.

 

Recent win

The Wildcats enter nationals with a 10-4-1 record in league play. In the most recent game Aug. 5 in Halifax, the Wildcats scored a 7-4 win.

Bunker, the Wildcats’ starting pitcher, went five-and-two-thirds innings, and according to coach Lyle Boylen, “pitched well before running out of gas in the fifth.”

Boylen acknowledged the coaching staff “left (Bunker) in a couple of batters too long,” and Halifax ended up tying the score at four.

Justin Beach entered the game, finished the fifth inning and added a scoreless sixth. Bradley Fuller pitched the seventh to earn a save, with Beach picking up the win.

The score remained tied 4-4 entering the top of the seventh, but Kentville tallied three runs to provide the eventual winning margin.

Dryden Schofield had the key hit in the seventh with a two-run triple. MacDonald also had an RBI triple, and Mike Boylen walked twice and scored two runs.

 

Heading to nationals

The Wildcats are a mixture of players who have previous nationals experience and newcomers to the national stage.

“I couldn’t be happier than to qualify for nationals with the group we have this year,” says Christian Vogler of Berwick. “It’s surreal to finish my junior career with a national experience and to experience it one more time.”

For Ruffinengo, this will be his third trip to nationals. He played at nationals with the Bantam Selects and, along with Barrett and Gaskell, was part of the 2013 Nova Scotia Canada Games team.

“I’m looking forward to facing some serious competition once again,” he said. “Growing up playing ball in Nova Scotia, you play alongside and against the same guys every year. Going to a national tournament like this allows us the opportunity to face guys we have never seen before, and in some cases, guys you may have faced once or twice in the past.”

Ruffinengo says the 2015 Wildcats “are good ballplayers and a great bunch of guys, which makes it all that much more exciting.

“Win or lose, we’ll have a good time, but a piece of hardware to hang around our necks will ensure a great weekend to top off the amazing season we’re having.”

For Barrett, this will actually be his sixth nationals. Most recently, he played for Tri-County at the 21U nationals last summer in Dartmouth.

“I’m looking forward to competing against the best players in the country and seeing how far we can get this year in Regina,” he said. “For a lot of the guys, this is their first nationals, which has to be exciting.”

The Wildcats, Barrett said, are a tight-knit group.

“And that helps our game a lot. Overall, I think we have the pitching to go deep in the tournament, and the addition of Jordan Pelham is huge because it gives us even more depth,” he said.

Boylen said Aug. 4 the team is feeling pretty good

“But, we know we’ll have our work cut out for us. I can’t speak for the players, but my expectation is to be competitive in our games and try to win a couple,” he said.

“As usual, we’ll be playing teams from much larger urban areas than ours, and who have a much larger pool of players to draw from.”

The Wildcats leave for Regina Aug. 12 and will see their first action at 9 a.m. Aug. 13 against Manitoba.

Weblink http://old.baseball.ca/21u.

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