Competition begins today in Miramichi, N.B.
John Patrick (J.P.) Stevenson gets the ball on opening day today for the host team at the Bigs Seeds Canadian senior men’s baseball championship.
The six-foot-two, 205-pound left-handed pitcher gets the call for the Chatham Ironmen against British Columbia in Miramichi, N.B., at 8 p.m.
“It’s going to be an electric atmosphere,” the 22-year-old New Glasgow native said Monday. “There’s some other pretty good pitchers they’ve called up to help them along, so it means a lot to get the ball in Game 1 and hopefully go out there and give us a chance to win.”
Stevenson, who turns 23 in October, returned from Germany about a week ago after playing for the Dohren Wild Farmers this summer. He finished up his career at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2018.
Stevenson is one of four Islanders participating at this week’s nationals. His brother Jordan, the ace of the Charlottetown Gaudet’s Auto Body Islanders, and slugger Dillon Doucette are with Chatham while catcher Logan Gallant is with the Fredericton Royals.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s a really cool atmosphere over there. The town really goes all out,” J.P. said. “Even though it’s not P.E.I. necessarily we’re playing for, it's pretty special to have an opportunity to represent P.E.I. on the national stage.”
The Stevenson brothers and Doucette went to nationals with the Royals in 2015 in Miramichi and finished fourth. J.P. was on a pitch count at the time and threw in relief. He got a save in a game Jordan got the win.
“That was something pretty special,” J.P. said. “The box score read, J. Stevenson five innings and then J. Stevenson two innings.”
Doucette, a 27-year-old St. Peters Bay resident who grew up in Peakes, has attended three previous nationals, one each with Charlottetown, Chatham and Fredericton with Charlottetown and Fredericton both finishing fourth.
“We certainly had some good finishes for sure and (played) some good ball,” he said. “I’d like to get a medal this time because it’s going to be one of my last years, probably, giving it a shot.”
Doucette didn’t play senior ball last year and, due to work commitments, hasn’t been able to make all of the games this season. But when he’s in the lineup, he’s a dangerous hitter, good defender and a well-known gamer.
He’s likely to see time at first or second base this week.
“I’m comfortable anywhere they want me and anywhere in the line-up, too. It doesn't matter,” he said. “Even if I am sitting on the bench, I’ll be happy to be there.”
Doucette has played with Jordan Stevenson for years. The righty has kept a young Islanders’ team in games he has started – many of which he has finished – all season.
“Chatham, they love Jordan too, just as much as P.E.I. does. He’s a competitor,” Doucette said. “He goes out there to pitch like we’re the best team in the league.”
Gallant, a rookie in the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League, was added to the Royals’ roster after catcher Corey Kavanagh broke several bones in his hand earlier this month when a batter struck him during a swing.
“I’m looking forward to the experience because I’ve heard so many different things about these nationals before and that they do such a phenomenal job,” the 23-year-old Cornwall native said. “The atmosphere is phenomenal over there and I’m just glad to be a part of it and excited for the opportunity.”
Doucette said Chatham is a great community that supports their team well. They have hosted nationals twice (2011 and 2015) in the previous 10 years. Doucette played with them in 2013 in Windsor, Ont.
“The fans still come up and say hello to you. . . They’ll make every one of us certainly fit in right away,” he said. “Chatham has a great community when it comes to ball. You’re going to have 2,000 people on your side. I played with Fredericton in Chatham against that before and it wasn't fun, so I know I’m looking forward to having that on my side this time.”
J.P. throws a fastball in the mid- to high-80s with a change-up and a breaking ball, he described as a mix of a curveball and slider depending on how he throws it.
He said while there weren’t really any nerves about pitching at the nationals earlier in the week, he expected the blood will be pumping come game time.
“You get those pre-game jitters . . . when you’re playing in an important game. It’s something I really thrive on and look forward to feeling again.”
A look at the last 10 winners of the Bigs Seeds Canadian senior men’s baseball championship with the host community.
Year Champs Host
2018 British Columbia Victoria, B.C.
2017 British Columbia Victoria, B.C.
2016 Ontario One Fredericton, N.B.
2015 Ontario Miramichi, N.B.
2014 British Columbia St. John’s, N.L.
2013 Windsor, Ont. Windsor, Ont.
2012 Prince George, B.C. Prince George, B.C.
2011 Windsor, Ont. Miramichi, N.B.
2010 British Columbia Dartmouth, N.S
2009 Alberta Dartmouth, N.S