St. John’s Winmar Capitals player-coach Mark Healy isn’t a superstitious guy, but with the team beginning its quest for a 13th straight Molson provincial senior A championship this weekend, that could change.
“Myself and Andrew Symonds are probably the only two left who have been through all 12 provincials. The superstition, if there’s any, will be between me and him.”
Looking to keep the Capitals from copping the crown are the Corner Brook Barons, back in the provincial final for the first time since 2007.
Even though they haven’t faced the Barons as a unit in five years, Healy says the Capitals still have a good idea of what to expect from the west coast team in the first three games of the best-of-seven series this weekend at St. Pat’s Ball Park.
“A lot of the older guys are still around, like Mike Brake, Darren Colbourne, Fred Prosper, Perry Alexander and Steve Hynes, so we’re pretty familiar with their lineup.
Adding to the familiarity is the senior club championship Healy and Corner Brook Baseball Association president Kevin McCarthy initiated two years ago whereby teams from the St. John’s senior circuit square off against clubs from the Corner Brook senior league in a single round robin tournament.
“They have a quality senior league. It’s not as competitive as ours and they’ll tell you that. They don’t take their senior league quite as seriously as we do ours, but it’s talented and it’s competitive baseball.
“We’ve gone out and lost to the Hawks, which is sort of their best team, twice in the final, so we stack up at the local level pretty well.”
Healy’s biggest concern when it comes to the Barons is a talented pitching staff, including junior-aged ace Michael Tavenor and left-handed hurler Myles Vincent.
“Right now, Greg Barry is probably the only real lefty in our league throwing at the all-star level, so some guys haven’t seen a tough lefty this year. When you walk on the field and see that for the first time it could be a bit of a challenge.”
Moreover, the Barons, under provincial baseball rules, have also added four strengthening players one of them being St. John’s league pitcher Jason Kearley of the Storm. The Mount Pearl pitcher has yet to lose a start in senior league play this year.
“Combined, they’re a lot stronger than what we’ve seen the last couple of years in the final, so I expect a tough series.”
The Capitals’ own pitching staff is Healy’s greatest concern when it comes to the provincial final.
“The biggest hole we’ve got to fill this year is the ones left by Karl DeHart and Justin Crawley, two of our four starting pitchers we had last year. And Stefan Lono, our left-handed relief guy, is not here either.
“We’ve got reliable guys in Bobby Kent, and Mike and Sean Janes, and Barry, but now we need some of the younger guys we’ve added — Kieran Buckingham, Dan Philips, Jon Nichols, and Alex Walsh — to step in and fill the holes.”
Kent will start Game 1, with Mike Janes getting the nod for Game 2 Saturday night. After that, Healy says he’ll “see who’s left standing to go Sunday.”
The series moves back to Jubilee Field in Corner Brook next weekend for Game 4 and,if necessary, Games 5, 6 and 7.
St. John’s Capitals roster
Mark Healy, Andrew Symonds, Gerald Butt, Gerry Stone, Steve Crouse, Trevor Clarke, Peter Madden, Bernie Madden, Scott Stockley, Andrew Stockley, Ron French, Blair Evans, James Walsh, Brent Power, Corey Ewart, John Blackmore, Alex Walsh, Jon Walsh, Kent, Mike Janes, Sean Janes, Kieran Buckingham, Greg Barry, Dan Phillips, Jon Nichols.
Game 1, St. Pat’s, Today, 1 p.m.
Game 2, St. Pat’s, Today, 7 p.m.
Game 3, St. Pat’s, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Game 4, Jubilee Field, Aug. 11, 2 p.m.
Game 5, Jubilee Field, Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m.*
Game 6, Jubilee Field, Aug 12, 2 p.m.*
Game 7, Jubilee Field, Aug. 12, 7:30 p.m.*
* — if necessary