Leafs keep rolling to post-season with win over Devils on record-setting night
TORONTO — Franchise rookie records continued to fall as the Toronto Maple Leafs kept on rolling toward the post-season.
NEW GLASGOW – They have yet to step on the field at nationals, but already Colby Russell and Rivaldo Yanes know it’s a feeling like no other.
Neither of the two have been to a national tournament since starting baseball when they were roughly four years old. It’s still surreal that they will be playing on a team to represent the province in just a week’s time. Both are excited for the opportunity.
“No, I never thought I’d get to go to nationals, but it crossed my mind that I might get to go after we had a good start to the season,” said Russell. “I always wanted to go. This will be exciting to go for the first time.”
The 17-year-old pitcher helped the MacGregor Kinsmen Midget AAAs advance to the national tournament, going 2-0 in their national elimination tournament in Hammonds Plains in July. In one of those two wins on the mound he pitched a complete game in the final, a 6-1 win over Hammonds Plains.
“It’s going to be quite a bit harder (at nationals),” he said. “I’ll have to change my approach some because the teams there will be so good. (At the elimination tournament) I pitched the second game and the finals. My nerves weren’t too bad. I started out shaky, but was fine once I got into it.”
Being held in Magog, Que., from Aug. 14 to 18, the national tournament is something Yanes, a first year player on the team, said is surreal.
“It’s really exciting to have this chance and I still can’t believe I have this opportunity to go, especially in my first year,” he said. “I’ve been to Quebec before, but never for sports, so it will be a cool experience.”
The outfielder said he believes his offensive abilities are the biggest thing he brings to the team.
“Basically in the outfield I try to bring tight defence and I think that Nova Scotia has some of the best defence in the area,” he said. “We’re going to try to continue that into nationals.”
A team that is made up of players from Pictou County, Truro, Amherst, Antigonish and Springhill, the MacGregor Kinsmen squad is based out of Stellarton.
“It’s great being the only local guys on the team because it’s based here,” said Russell. “There are a lot of good players, so it’s awesome to make it since we’re from here.”
Comparing this season to last, which was somewhat of a rebuilding year with younger players, Russell said this is the best team he has been on since he started playing baseball.
“So far for me the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that we’ve had a winning season, which we didn’t last year,” he said. “We kept most of the same group after a tough year and for me it’s been huge that we’ve been playing as more of a team. Last year when we would get down we would try to do it all ourselves. Now we work together as a team to bounce back in games.”
Yanes agreed with Russell, although it’s his first season of midget.
“It’s one of the best group of guys or teams that I’ve played with because it could be something as simple as an error and the guys don’t point fingers or get down on one guy,” he said. “I’ve experienced that before on other teams, but there’s no hint of that this year.”
Next week Nova Scotia will open the tournament against New Brunswick on Aug. 14 at 8:30 a.m. (eastern). For more information on the tournament visit www.old.baseball.ca/18u.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris