The Isles start the best-of-five New Brunswick Senior Baseball League quarter-final tonight with a 7:30 p.m. game in Moncton with the Fisher Cats. The Islanders (12-20) finished last in the five-team league, three games back of the Fisher Cats (15-17).
“It’s all about just getting hot at the right time,” MacLean said. “The standings don't really matter now. You just have to go out and play ball and win the games.”
The Islanders started the season without their top five hitters from the 2016 lineup. It resulted in a 2-10 record, but as the guys got more comfortable with their roles and the team got healthier, the squad went 10-10 the rest of the way.
The Islanders don't have to look too far for an example of what is possible despite finishing low in the regular season standings.
Moncton swept Charlottetown in last year’s semifinal after winning three straight to eliminate Saint John in the quarter-final. The Fisher Cats lost the final in five games to the Fredericton Royals.
“They had nothing to lose . . . kind of the same way we’re going into the playoffs this year,” Islanders head coach Keith Craswell said. “We have nothing to lose. We finished last, but we're going to go out and have some fun, run the bases and try to make a few things happen and get a couple of Ws here early.”
Charlottetown and Moncton split the first six games of their regular season match-up before Moncton won the final two meetings to end the season on Aug. 15 and 16.
“We didn't really finish the way we wanted to, but I think we put that behind us and we’re just ready to go now,” MacLean said. “We know we’ll probably be seeing (pitcher Sam) Lund. We saw him all year, we just have to be ready to hit and be a little aggressive in there.”
Brody McDonald, a key holdover from the 2015 squad that won the league title, said pitching and defence would be key to the team’s success.
“We get a couple of good starts and don't make a whole lot of errors during the games, we should be fine,” he said.
The squad will be playing its first game in two weeks, as the league shut down for a week during the Canadian senior men’s championship.
“Sometimes we do struggle with our bats after taking that week or two off, but hopefully we can just play some small ball and get enough runs across to win us a couple of ball games,” said McDonald.
The lefty pitched the first game of the nationals for the Fredericton Royals before leaving for a friend’s wedding. The Royals lost 5-3 to British Columbia in Sunday’s final.
The Islanders are fairly healthy, but the status of pitcher Jordan Stevenson, who led the team in hits this season while playing third base, was not clear on Tuesday. The New Glasgow native has been dealing with a hip/groin injury, and Craswell said it might mean he is used out of the bullpen.
“His body will tell him when it’s time to play,” the bench boss said.
Charlottetown has added four players from the P.E.I. Junior Islanders, including pitcher Spencer Horne, outfielder Dominique Ryan and infielders Ryne MacIsaac and J.J. Oram.
The quarter-final winner will play the first-place Chatham Ironmen (19-13) in the semifinal while Saint John and Fredericton meet in the other semi.
7:30 p.m. – Charlottetown at Moncton.
7:30 p.m. – Moncton at Charlottetown.
7 p.m. – Charlottetown at Moncton.
Moncton at Charlottetown*, time to be announced.
7:30 p.m. – Charlottetown at Moncton*.
Regular season meetings
Moncton 2 Charlottetown 1
Moncton 9 Charlottetown 4
Charlottetown 9 Moncton 3
Moncton 11 Charlottetown 1
Charlottetown 5 Moncton 1
Charlottetown 4 Moncton 3
Moncton 9 Charlottetown 0
Moncton 4 Charlottetown 2
Moncton – Paul Raglione, .391; Lance Van Noy, .375; and Mike Ivey, .321.
Charlottetown – Jordan Stevenson, .390; Jordan Duffy, .368; and Grant Grady, .275.
Moncton – Serge Vautour, 5; Paul Raglione, 2; and Lance Van Noy, 2.
Charlottetown – Jordan Stevenson, 2.
Moncton – Serge Vautour, 28; Paul Raglione, 22; and Lance Van Noy, 19.
Charlottetown – Jordan Stevenson, 16; Brody McDonald, 13; and Grant Grady, 11.
Moncton – Luc Vautour, 12; Serge Vautour and Justin Cormier, 7.
Charlottetown – Grant Grady and Taylor Larkin, 4; Jesse MacIntyre, 3.
Moncton – Sam Lund, 6; and Justin Cormier, 4.
Charlottetown – Jordan Stevenson, 7; and Brody McDonald, 3.
Moncton – Sam Lund, 2.81; Justin Cormier, 2.95.
Charlottetown – Brody McDonald, 2.05; Jordan Stevenson, 2.75.
Moncton – Sam Lund, 92; Justin Cormier, 37; and Paul Raglione, 21.
Charlottetown – Brody McDonald, 59; Jordan Stevenson, 52; and Brady Arsenault, 18.
MVP – Mike Washburn, Fredericton.
Pitcher of the year – Jack Shannon, Saint John.
Rookie of the year – Blake Gallagher, Chatham.
Top defensive player – Lance Van Noy, Moncton.
Sportsman and ability award – Corey Wood, Fredericton.
Coach of the year – Mark Noel, Chatham.
Top batting average – Mike Washburn, Fredericton, .439.
Home run leader – Mike Washburn, Fredericton, 9.
RBI leader – Mike Washburn, Fredericton, 32.
Stolen base leader – Kris Keating, Chatham, 19.
Top ERA – Jack Shannon, Saint John, 0.98.
Strikeout leader – Sam Lund, Moncton, 92.
LHP Jack Shannon, Saint John.
RHP Jordan Stevenson, Charlottetown.
DH Jack Shannon, Saint John.
C Jeff Watkin, Chatham.
1B Devan Thomas, Saint John.
2B David Crossman, Fredericton.
3B Mark Phillips, Saint John.
SS Mike Washburn, Fredericton.
OF Dave Barr, Fredericton.
OF Lance Van Noy, Moncton.
OF Tanner Banks, Fredericton.
Coach Mark Noel, Chatham.