In previous years, the Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League season would generally see either the Hantsport Shamrocks or Noel Road Jays sitting in first place with four or five other teams fighting for the two remaining playoff berths.
The 2018 season is shaping up to be quite a bit different as the league has reached the halfway mark of its 24-game regular season.
Going into play the weekend of July 7-8, the Sherose Island Schooners and Hantsport Shamrocks were tied for first place with 30 points, with the Shelburne County team having two games in hand. The Schooners were 9-3 while the Shamrocks were 8-6, with both teams having the best run differential in the league at +24. The Kennetcook Braves have the worst run differential at -100.
The Schooners and Shamrocks are scheduled to play a crucial doubleheader in Hantsport July 15, with games starting at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Sherose Island will play Kennetcook at the Hants North Recreation Field on July 14 at 1 p.m. and 3p.m.
The following are highlights from recent league play.
Sherose Island and the Windsor Knights played a doubleheader on Canada Day in Shelburne County with the Knights losing both games by one point.
In the first game, Sherose Island came out on top with a 6-5 verdict.
The Knights grabbed an early 5-0 lead but could not hang on and lost 6-5 with the Schooners scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Ryan Clarke went five and two-third innings, but Alex Sabean came on in relief. The Knights showed plenty of offensive power as Devan Dunfield connected for a bases-loaded double in the third inning while Paul Humphreys drove in a pair of runs on a couple of hits including a double. Derek Hart also collected a pair of hits for the Knights.
In the second game, Sherose Island again came out on top by one run. The final was 3-2.
The Knights' veteran pitcher Dave Swindall pitched the entire game, allowing seven hits and only three runs but the Knights could only muster a pair of runs. The Schooners scored the game winner in the bottom of the seventh.
In a July 2 doubleheader in Hantsport, the Jays swept a pair of games from the Shamrocks.
In the first game, Noel Road won 13-11.
Pat Benedict, of the Jays, put on an almost flawless afternoon at the plate as he collected three hits, drove in four runs and scored a pair while Kenny Miller added a two-run single.
For the Shamrocks, Roland Provencal went two for five with three RBIs while Adrian Lloy went two for four with a double and three RBIs. Matt Russell collected two hits and scored three runs while Sean Croft delivered one hit and two RBIs.
Shawn Marshall pitched the win for the Jays giving up four runs over four innings while in relief, Jud Wiseman struggled, allowing seven runs on three hits.
Travis Hart suffered the loss for Hantsport, allowing 11 runs on seven hits over four innings,
In the second game, Noel Road emerged victorious with a 6-0 win.
Justin Campbell threw five innings of two-hit ball for the Jays to earn the win.
Matt Lloy, in an uncharacteristic game, pitched the loss, giving up six runs on 10 hits.
Aaron MacPhee, Kenny Miller, Pat Benedict and Jud Wiseman all collected doubles for the Jays.
This concluded the season series between the Jays and Shamrocks as the teams split a pair of games in Noel Road June 23-24. Hantsport won the opener 5-2 and the Jays won the second game 7-3. Kyle Johnston and Matt Russell homered for the Shamrocks in the opening game. Colin McCulloch pitched the win for the Jays going the distance allowing four hits while James Joice suffered the loss, giving up seven hits and seven runs over six innings,.
In other recent play, the Knights swept a pair from Kennetcook in Windsor by scores of 5-4 and 9-2. Joe Beaton went five for eight in the two games with a double and two RBIs. Bryce Rivard was two for two with a double and a triple and Humphreys collected three RBIs in garnering two hits in the second game.
In the opener, the Braves jumped out in front 3-0 before Windsor rallied with a run in the fifth, two more in the sixth and then when trailing 4-3 going to the bottom of the seventh came up with two more runs. Glenn Harvie went four for four with a double and a home run and three RBIs in the opener.
The Braves are now 1-14 on the season.