If luck had been on their side, the Kentville Wildcats could have found themselves playing Truro for fourth place in the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League’s regular season and a spot in the playoffs but it didn’t pan out.
KENTVILLE, NS - The Wildcats won’t make the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League playoffs this season but the coach knows what went wrong and hopes to hit the ground running next spring.
Head coach Ian Mosher said they had to win all three home games against Sydney on Sept. 1 and 2 and they needed Dartmouth to beat Truro on Sept. 3 to keep the season alive. If Kentville had won all three games and Dartmouth was victorious, this would have forced a one-game playoff for the Wildcats in Truro.
Kentville won on Sept. 1 but Sydney still clinched first-place in the regular season. Sydney’s Kenny Long was throwing a no-hitter in the sixth inning and Kentville was down 4-0. However, the Wildcats rallied for a 6-4 win, keeping playoff dreams alive.
The Wildcats turned up the heat in the first game of the Sept. 2 double-header, winning 13-6, and they remained in contention until the final inning of the second game.
Kentville was ahead 2 to 1 going into the ninth inning and needed only three more outs. However, the Wildcats gave up two runs and ended up losing 3 to 2, which Mosher called “disappointing.” They would have liked one more shot at Truro for a chance at the playoffs.
“It was a gallant effort but we came up three outs short,” Mosher said. “For 26 of the 27 innings, we were right where we wanted to be and needed to be and in the last inning of the third game was when it got away from us.”
Mosher said that, overall, they had a young and somewhat inexperienced team this year, especially in comparison to the veteran pitchers they faced. There were a lot of growing pains but the players gained valuable experience and Mosher said this is something that any developing team has to go through.
“There are a lot of things at play here when you’re young and trying to learn and build a team,” Mosher said. “A lot of that happened this year and it showed in our record.”
He told the players at the conclusion of the Sept. 2 double-header that, as they begin to put this season into perspective, to think about ways they and the team could improve and hit the ground running in 2018.
“Whatever ideas come forward, we’ll reflect on that and evaluate it and maybe we can speed the process along,” Mosher said.
In spite of having eight wins and 20 losses this season, the Wildcats maintained a winning record at Memorial Park. They were eight and six at home but didn’t win a game on the road. Mosher said it’s the first time he recalls this happening and described it as “a conflagration of bad luck.”
“We did manage to have some half-decent performances at home, however, our play on the road was not that much less in terms of quality, it’s just the breaks never seemed to go our way,” Mosher said.
He said the Wildcats pitchers did very well and the outfield defence was excellent. However, infield defence left a lot to be desired and the team committed too many errors.
Mosher said you couldn’t give more experienced teams extra opportunities to capitalize, especially when your team is struggling to score runs.
“That’s a bad recipe and that’s the one we really have to fix,” Mosher said.
He foresees a future evolution in the team that will include more local players joining the roster.
With Sydney in first place and Truro in fourth, Dartmouth and Halifax are scheduled to play Sept. 5 to determine second and third place for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.