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Boys of summer back from nationals


The national baseball stage is no stranger to Gander’s Brett Glover, Riley King and Blair Penney, as the trio has performed on it during the past three years.

Brett Glover, left, tosses his bat after receiving a walk that scored teammate Riley King, right, as the Gander duo helped lead Team NL to a 6-3 victory over Team Nova Scotia at the 2015 Canadian 18U Baseball Championships in Coaticoke, Que., Aug. 13-16.

However, none faced the stress and excitement they experienced at the 2015 Canadian 18U Baseball Championships in Coaticoke, Que., Aug. 13-16.

“It was just so intense right from the first pitch to the last,” said Glover of the team’s five games. “I’ve never experienced anything like it before at the national level.”

And Glover and King would know, especially at the 18U level, as this was their third consecutive year representing Newfoundland and Labrador at the event.

As 16-year-olds, Glover and King travelled to Trois-Riviéres where Team NL was 10-run mercied in three of its five games. Last year in Magog, the team improved somewhat to only feel the 10-run mercy rule twice, but, according to Glover, played much better and were in just about every game.

However, this year was totally different.

The team was mercied only once and that came late in the game against Team Manitoba when Team NL had some defensive miscues that led to a combined seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings in a 10-0 loss.

“The scoreboard may have shown 10-0 but the game was a lot closer than that,” King said. “It was 3-0 after four innings, and actually 3-0 with two out the fifth when a couple of errors and timely hits allowed them to score four runs. We struggled at the bat in that one, but in the end, we really gave them a lopsided win with our defensive errors. ...It was by no means a 10-0 game.”

The team rebounded in its next game to double Nova Scotia 6-3, giving Glover and King their first taste of victory at the national level.

For Penney, who played on the province’s team in 2013 winning two games at the 15U national championships in Vaughn, Ont., it was also exhilarating.

“You could feel the tension building as the game went along, and in the bottom of the seventh with two out everyone was on pins and needles,” Penney said. “It was like that back when I went to Vaughn, but I think this was even more so because it was such a long time since a team from Newfoundland won a game at the 18U national level (2008 in Halifax), and we were all standing and making noise hoping for the last out.

“When we got the last out everyone just rushed onto the field.”

The victory also gave Team NL a new sense of confidence that it carried into its final three games, and even though it didn’t win either one of them, Glover said the team provided some of the most intense action in the entire tournament.

Following the team’s victory, Team NL lost a nail-biting 2-1 decision to Prince Edward Island when a passed ball allowed the winning run to score from third base with two strikes on the batter and two out.

Then came a narrow 9-7 extra-inning loss to Saskatchewan, followed by a 5-3 extra-inning loss to eventual bronze-medalists New Brunswick.

“It was just amazing to be in every game and have a chance to win,” Glover said. “We never really had that before. This team played awesome with the exception of some defensive mistakes.

“We could have easily been 4-1 instead of 1-4.”

The baseball season is far from over for the trio, as Glover and Penney will be back on the field this weekend at the Provincial Midget AA Championships in St. John’s facing some of the teammates they had in Quebec.

Meanwhile, King will be heading to Holland College in P.E.I., where he will be trying out for the school’s varsity team.

                                   khiggins@ganderbeacon.ca       

Twitter: @beaconnl

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