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Charlottetown Gaudet's Auto Body Islanders take leave of absence from NBSBL

Jesse MacIntyre prepares to lay down a bunt at Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders batting practice during the 2017 season. The franchise will not field a team this season as it could not find enough players to commit.
Jesse MacIntyre prepares to lay down a bunt at Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders batting practice during the 2017 season. The franchise will not field a team this season as it could not find enough players to commit. - Jason Malloy

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – There will be no senior baseball on Prince Edward Island this summer.

The Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders has requested a one-year leave of absence from the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League.

General manager Peter McDonald said the team was unable to find enough committed players to field a team this year.

“The reality of it is, it’s just not doable,” he said. “It’s very disappointing, but what can you do?”

The Islanders were scheduled to start the season May 19 in Saint John, N.B. To field a competitive team, the Islanders were looking to have an 18-player roster with at least 14 being committed to playing most of the team’s 32-game regular season schedule.

“It’s a huge commitment,” McDonald acknowledged.

The squad has had good support from sponsors, but each player was responsible for raising $500 on his own and taking part in other fundraisers during the year. It was required to keep the team afloat, paying for bats, balls and bus trips to New Brunswick.

The shortest road trip is to Moncton. If the team played a 7 p.m. game on a Sunday night in the Hub City, they would leave P.E.I. around 4 p.m. and not get back to around 11 or 11:30 p.m. Other road trips could mean 15-hour days.

The team essentially gets two weekends off during the season, which runs from Victoria Day weekend until the playoffs are done in September. One of those weekends could also be used as a make-up weekend for games rained out.

The roster issue started last season when a variety of work commitments, injuries and other reasons led to the squad losing half its starting lineup from the 2015 championship season that represented the league and P.E.I. at the nationals in Fredericton, N.B., in 2016.

“When you lose that kind of core group of guys, it’s pretty tough to replace,” said infielder Jesse MacIntyre, a Mill River native and Charlottetown resident. “Hopefully, it’s just a year (leave), and we can get things back together for next year.”

There were times last season when players were making late requests to get players to join them for a game and even had to add head coach Keith Craswell to the lineup as a player on five occasions.

McDonald said he was told other teams in the five-team circuit have taken a one-year leave in the past.

“It’s easier to get back into the league if you ask for a year’s leave,” he said.

The hope is some new blood, including some from the junior ranks, will commit to playing in 2019.

McDonald noted there are guys who are committed, but they realized if enough players couldn't be found trying to patch a team together wasn’t the solution.

MacIntyre said he might play fastball or in the Kings County Baseball League or work on his golf game.

“The handicap went up a couple of strokes over the past two years, since I started playing senior again, so I might try and get that game back on track,” he said.

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