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UPDATE: P.E.I. Junior Islanders begin baseball season Sunday at Memorial Field


STRATFORD, P.E.I. —

Dave MacIsaac sees promise when he scans the P.E.I. Junior Islanders potential roster.

The head coach said there is a potent middle of the order and depth in its pitching staff when it has its full squad together.

“We’ll certainly be competitive,” he said during Wednesday’s practice.

The squad begins the New Brunswick Junior Baseball League regular season at home Saturday when it hosts the Chatham Ironmen for a doubleheader beginning at noon at Memorial Field.

Editor's note: The games have been pushed from Saturday to Sunday due to inclement weather in the forecast for Saturday. The games will begin Sunday at noon.

The team has lost some key pieces from last year with the graduation of guys like Brett Hicken, Porter Smith, Johnathan Arsenault, Matt Barlow, Jed Noonan and Chasse Gallant, but it has foundation pieces in place in the likes of Kyle Pinksen, Ryne MacIsaac, Josh Myers, Connor McGregor and Chandler LaPorte.

Myers of Belmont Lot 16 recently completed his freshman season with SUNY Adirondack of the National Junior College Athletic Association third division. He hit .295 with three home runs and 30 RBI in 39 games. The six-foot-four, 215-pound righty went 1-1 on the mound in 10 2/3 innings pitched.

Pinksen works fulltime, but the team hopes to have him for as many games as possible this season.

“He’s a huge threat in the middle of our order,” MacIsaac said. “He’s been one of the best hitters in this league for three years now.”

McGregor has been swinging the bat well in batting practice this spring and provides balance to the attack.

“He’s in great shape,” MacIsaac said. “He got bigger and stronger over the winter playing junior A hockey (in St. Stephen, N.B.) and I think he’s going to be a real threat this year in the middle of our order.”

McGregor, a right-handed hitter, is a key for an Islanders squad that is predominantly filled with left-handed hitters. With a lineup heavy with lefties, some people would expect the Isles to be susceptible to southpaws.

“We see so many of them – everyone saves them for us – it turns out not to be a big deal,” MacIsaac said.

LaPorte and Nolan Hicken will be key pitchers for the Islanders this season while Patrick Gallant is back after having Tommy John surgery. They will be joined by a stable of pitchers that will include Connor (Bones) Jones, Eric Anderson and Gabe Penalver.

The five-team circuit also includes the Fredericton Royals, Metro Mudcats and Saint John Alpines. The Moncton-based Mudcats won last year’s championship.

The Ironmen eliminated the Islanders in last year’s best-of-five semifinal 3-1.

The Islanders could see pitcher Zach Newman, a Miramichi, N.B., native, on Saturday. The righty went 5-2 in 53 innings this year in his sophomore season with Minot State University in North Dakota.

The Islanders haven’t been able to practise outside yet due to a wet spring.

“We've been fortunate enough to be able to get inside with a great facility like this,” MacIsaac said from the Norton Diamond Soccer Complex in Stratford. “I don't know what we would do without it.”

The bench boss will miss the first game of the season after he was handed a one-game suspension after being ejected for arguing a called third strike in the team’s final game of the 2018 playoffs. The coaching staff also includes assistant coach Chris McGregor, pitching coach Scott MacDonald while Vernon (Buzz) Doyle is the general manager.


Schedule

A look at the New Brunswick Junior Baseball League standings and schedule.

                       W        L          Pct.      GB

Chatham         0          0          –          –

Fredericton     0          0          –          –

Metro              0          0          –          –

P.E.I.               0          0          –          –

Saint John       0          0          –          –

Saturday’s Games

Chatham at P.E.I., noon and 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s Game

Metro at Saint John, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday’s Game

Fredericton at Metro, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 26

P.E.I. at Saint John, noon and 2:30 p.m.

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