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Surprise! Shamrocks off to quick baseball start

Things are a little different at St. Pat’s Ball Park these days thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most obvious has the home plate umpire now calling balls and strikes from behind the pitcher’s mound, in an effort to limit the number of people around the plate. Here, umpire Ryan Garland prepares to make a call after the Knights’ Matt Janes delivers a pitch during a recent St. John’s Molson Senior Baseball League game. Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Things are a little different at St. Pat’s Ball Park these days thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most obvious has the home plate umpire now calling balls and strikes from behind the pitcher’s mound, in an effort to limit the number of people around the plate. Here, umpire Ryan Garland prepares to make a call after the Knights’ Matt Janes delivers a pitch during a recent St. John’s Molson Senior Baseball League game. Keith Gosse/The Telegram
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Robin Short

The Telegram

robin.short@thetelegram.com

@telyrobinshort

They’re still five championships away from equalling their run of nine consecutive St. John’s Senior Baseball League crowns in the 1980s, but the Shamrocks appear to have the seeds planted for another collection of league titles.

It’s still very early in the 2020 senior baseball campaign, but the Shamrocks are off to a 4-0 start this season, the latest win a 10-1 pasting of Feildians Monday night at St. Pat’s Ball Park.

That game was a rematch of last year’s championship final when the green and gold completed a four-game sweep of the Double Blues.

Shammies outscored Feildians 50-16 in the series.

Those numbers bring back memories of a time from 1980-88, when the Shamrocks won nine straight championships. Guards upset the streak in 1989, with a semifinal win over the Shammies.

Much of the Shamrocks’ success of late, according to coach Sean Gulliver, a recent inductee into the Baseball Newfoundland and Labrador Hall of Fame, can be credited to a deep pool of players, on both the senior squad and the Shamrocks’ intermediate squad, which has won its league championship five of the past six years.

In fact, Shamrocks’ senior and intermediate teams have won their respective league titles nine of the past 10 years.

From last year’s senior championship team, Trevor Clarke — “who’s the best infielder on the island,” according to Gulliver — is not back at the ball park this year because of work commitments, and neither is Brent Power, who is working toward his master's degree.

However, both Dylan MacKenzie and Ben Murphy have graduated from intermediate and are regular contributors to the senior team. Last year, Zach Fitzpatrick and Parker Gulliver came out of the intermediate ranks to play senior.

“Guys come up to senior and they don’t miss a beat,” coach Gulliver said. “I’ve got five juniors with the senior team now, and they’re getting good experience.

“When these kids get their chance to play, they’re ready to go to senior.”

Monday night, Parker Gulliver went three-for-four with a couple of RBIs, and MacKenzie collected two hits, scored a run and knocked in a run in the win over Feildians. Greg Barry collected two hits.

Winning pitcher Matt Murphy (6.0IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 3K) and Fitzpatrick (1.0IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1K) combined on a two-hitter for the win.

Adam Lawlor (3.0IP, 5H, 4R, 3ER, 4BB, 0K) started and was tagged with the loss. Nick Curran (1.0IP, 4H, 4R, 3ER, 1BB, 1K) and Andrew Kay (2.0IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 3K, 1HBP) also saw mound duty.

Storm downed Knights 5-1 in another game.

Daniel Toope (5.0IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 5BB, 7K) was the winning pitcher, with relief help from Tyler Hennessey (2.0IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1K). Dave Bugden (3.2IP, 3H, 3R, 0ER, 1BB, 2K, 1HBP) took the loss after relieving starter Tyler Walchuk (2.0IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 1K, 1HBP). Brandon Jackson (0.1IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 1BB, 1K) also pitched.

Cole Tucker had two hits for the Storm, and Nick French had a pair for Knights.

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