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Kenn Oliver
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St. John's Molson senior baseball season opens Saturday at St. Pat's Ball Park

Last season, the fourth-seeded H.J. Bartlett Electric Storm surprised local baseball fans by winning the St. John's Molson Senior Baseball League championship, upsetting top-seeded and heavily-favoured Gonzaga Vikings in the final.

In doing so, the Storm became the first Mount Pearl-based team to win the St. John's senior baseball crown.

Joel Fulford of the H.J. Bartlett Electric Knights faces Shamrocks pitcher Steve Barbour in St. John's Molson senior men's baseball action at St. Pat's Ball Park last season. Fulford, now with the Darnell's Pub Knights, and Barbour will be among some of t

Last season, the fourth-seeded H.J. Bartlett Electric Storm surprised local baseball fans by winning the St. John's Molson Senior Baseball League championship, upsetting top-seeded and heavily-favoured Gonzaga Vikings in the final.

In doing so, the Storm became the first Mount Pearl-based team to win the St. John's senior baseball crown.

"Once we got the commitment down the stretch, everyone knows what happened next, a bit of history was made," says Storm coach Dave Roper.

"This year, we have a big target on our back, but as long as we get the full commitment from everyone again, we should do okay."

The league opens its 2010 season Saturday at St. Pat's Ball Park when the Vikings and Storm meet in a championship game rematch. Sunday, Holy Cross meet the Shamrocks. Both games are at 1 p.m.

Here's how this year's editions of the defending champ Storm, runner-up Vikes, Holy Cross Crusaders, Darnell's Pub Knights, Shamrock City Shamrocks and Guards stack up.

H.J. Bartlett Electric Storm

Coach: Dave Roper

Player-coaches: Grant Kenny, Joey Wadden

2009 record: 12-13 (3rd overall)

At the plate: Following a 2008 season where the Storm batted below .200, the team jumped up dramatically to .246 in 2009 buoyed by the big bats of Joey Wadden, the surprising Chris Sparkes and Grant Kenny, all of whom are back for the 2010 season. With Ronnie Reardon having moved away, the Storm swapped four first round draft picks for the Knights' Brent Power and Adam Lawlor. "We had a mediocre offensive team, so two of the boys bring a little more firepower," says Roper.

On the mound: Just as they raised their batting average, the Storm dropped its team ERA in 2009. Ace Jason Kearley is back for a full season, as are playoff hero Peter Fifield and Steve Lane. The trio of starters will be joined by Lawlor in the team's bullpen. Whether Ross Reardon returns to help remains to be seen, according to Roper.

In the dugout: Mike Dyke, Kevin Farrell, Gary Dowden, Steve Bailey, Neil Tibbo, Steve Donahue, Terry Ryan, Jared Power

Coach's call: "A lot of guys realize now what it will takes to win. It's important for us this year to get out of the gate a little earlier than what we did last year. We want to get off to a hot start."

Gonzaga Vikings

Player-coaches: Troy Croft, Peter Madden, Blair Rogers

2009 record: 18-7 (1st overall)

At the plate: Considered the best hitting team in the league, Gonzaga will likely retain the distinction in 2010. Leading the way once again are Peter Madden and Matt Parsons. The team will have to do without veteran Mike O'Neil for stretches of the season due to work commitments.

On the mound: Derek Collins, Tyler Vincent and Keith Spurrell will lead the Vikings on the mound, with the Madden brothers, Peter and Bernie, along with Blair Rogers and Karl Dehart called on to eat up innings.

In the dugout: David Delaney, Jon Butler, Gerald Butt, Jon Blackmore, David Lahey

Coach's call: "As far as we're concerned, we are still the best team in the league. Position for position, we should still have the most talent. Our pitching is a bit older, but that often makes them better and smarter pitchers," says Madden.

Holy Cross Crusaders

Player-coaches: Mark Healey, Gerry Stone, Steve Crouse

2009 record: 18-7 (2nd overall)

At the plate: There are few changes in Crusader country for the 2010 season. The guts of the Holy Cross roster remained intact as the Crusaders look to make the league final after two straight years first-round playoff defeat. Three of the top five hitters in the league last season were Cross players, but only two of those - Stone and Healey - will be in the lineup all season. Willie Combden, who hit .361 last year, is having shoulder surgery in June and is expected to miss the remainder of the campaign. On the flipside, Matthew Smith has recovered from back surgery, which kept him out of the lineup until late in the season.

On the mound: Smith brings as much to the pitcher's mound as he does to the field and the plate. The lefty compliments a solid rotation which already includes Justin Crawley, Sean Janes and Matthew Peterson. Former intermediate pitcher Tyler Pittman brings another arm to the team's staff.

In the dugout: Ryan Tapper, Paul Tilley, Ryan Hepditch, Ron French, Dean Hammond, Steve Callahan, Jason Walsh, Justin Kelly

Coach's call: "Our biggest challenge, typically, is getting that timely hitting. We're always close in pitching and defense, there's hardly ever a blowout when we play. Through the thick and thin, our team has always been there by playing fundamental baseball," says Healey.

Shamrock City Shamrocks

Player-coaches: Sean Gulliver, Andrew Symonds

Assistant coach: Rob Rose

2009 record: 12-13 (4th overall)

At the plate: The 2010 edition of the Shammies will be without Chad Gulliver - sidelined by shoulder surgery - and veteran catcher Peter Cornick whose work will keep him in Ottawa for the bulk of the summer. The two have essentially been replaced by Andrew and Scott Stockley, acquired in a trade with the Guards. Mario Tee is expected to be in the lineup on a full-time basis, Dave Buckingham - "an All-star calibre player," says Gulliver - makes his return and Josh Lane joins the mix.

On the mound: Already with Bob Kent - considered the best pitcher on the island - Stephan Lono, Scott Goosney, and Steve Barbour, the Shamrocks will see big southpaw Matt Bannister return by mid-July and Chris Whelan is back to, "give us some depth in the pitching department."

In the dugout: Steve Crouse, Brent Power, Symonds, Trevor Clarke, Jon Rose, Kirk Fleming

Coach's call: "We've gotten younger and quicker and I think we're stronger defensively and offensively. The changes we made improved us in a bunch of areas and hopefully come late September and October, we'll be one of two final teams and have chance to get back on top again."

Guards

Coach: Bernie Davis

Player-coaches: Gary Dymond, Bill Lawlor

2009 record: 11-14 (5th overall)

At the plate: Davis won't deny the loss of Scott and Andrew Stockley are significant, but the return should outweigh their losses. Through trades with the Shamrocks and Knights, the team had three of top four draft picks, adding pitcher Greg Barry, Dylan Rogers and Jamie Beck. Justin Downey is back and healthy, as are Lenny King, Jamie Downey and a host of players from the intermediate Guards who will see plenty of action this season. Also returning to the Guards organization is Chan Wiseman.

On the mound: Larry Gray, undefeated in intermediate play last season, was traded to the Knights leaving Jon Walsh as the team's most experienced hurler. Joining him are intermediate standout Dan Phillips, who will spend most of his season with the senior club, and Keiran Buckingham, who is expected to return from British Columbia late in the season. Other pitchers include Nathan Hutchens and King. "We'd like to have another one or two arms," says Davis.

In the dugout: Jeff Gillem, Ray Warren, Randy King, Mark Rowsell, Mike Delaney, Jason Lawlor

Coach's call: "We're not devastated by any stretch. Last year, we finished third in hitting, so if we can get some pitching with that we should be alright."

Darnell's Pub Knights

Coach: Joe Wadden

Player-coaches: Brian Kielly, Todd Smith, Jody Vey

2009 record: 4-21 (6th overall)

At the plate: The Knights' offence took a big hit with its best two hitters from 2009 - Adam Lawlor and Brent Power - traded to the Storm. Brought in to help fill the void are Erik French and Shawn Beson from the Guards. Also returning is Peter Curran, who missed most of last season and is expected to be, "big contributor to the team in all areas," according to Kielly.

On the mound: Stalwarts Jon Mercer and Jody Vey will get some help on the mound with the addition of Billy Dooley from Holy Cross, Larry Gray from the Guards, and Frank Brien from the Storm. Also set for a big year is junior-aged hurler Noah Anderson, who "added miles to his ball with the help of coaching" at Brock University this past year.

In the dugout: Joel Fulford, Bob Parsons, Jelmin Lopez, Aaron Floor, Steve Kelly

Coach's call: "Last season, with the Storm winning, it showed that with good pitching and depth any team could improve drastically and win this league. There's no reason, with the changes our team made this season, not to aim high."

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Molson, Vikings, Holy Cross Brock University

Geographic location: St. John's, Ball Park, Troy Ottawa British Columbia

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Recent comments

  • Trevor
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    If the Storm can minimize their nights out at the Trinity Pub, they're going to have a real chance at winning this league

  • Expert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Jody Vey a stalworth? Who reports this stuff. Predictions

    Regular Season

    1. Storm
    2. Holy Cross
    3. Gonzaga
    4. Guards
    5. Knights
    6. Shamrocks

    League Champ - Storm

  • Fan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    More realistically
    1. Gonzaga
    2. Shamrocks
    3. Holy Cross
    4. Storm
    5. Guards
    6. Kinghts

  • Trevor
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    If the Storm can minimize their nights out at the Trinity Pub, they're going to have a real chance at winning this league

  • Expert
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Jody Vey a stalworth? Who reports this stuff. Predictions

    Regular Season

    1. Storm
    2. Holy Cross
    3. Gonzaga
    4. Guards
    5. Knights
    6. Shamrocks

    League Champ - Storm

  • Fan
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    More realistically
    1. Gonzaga
    2. Shamrocks
    3. Holy Cross
    4. Storm
    5. Guards
    6. Kinghts