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Baycats start the drive for five this weekend

The Barrie Baycats host the Kitchener Panthers Sunday at Coates Stadium

There is no better way to let loose after a long harsh winter than with opening day, and the Barrie Baycats will do just that this Sunday, May 6.

The reigning Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) champion Baycats will start the defence of that title at home in Coates Stadium at 2 p.m. Sunday against the team they beat in the finals last year, the Kitchener Panthers.

Last year’s Baycats were arguably the most dominant team in league history as they started the year 26-0 (a new record), went 33-3 in the regular season (the most wins in a 36-game schedule with three losses being the least by a team), their .931 winning percentage was the best in IBL history. Not only did they not lose at home all season, but they went 8-0 for a perfect playoffs.

The franchise has won five league championships and four straight heading into 2018. Manager and GM Angus Roy is as confident of his squad as ever before even with a few new faces coming in to join the guys who have been here for years. But if you’re looking for the team to focus on last season’s successes, you’ll have to rely on old photographs.

“New faces always help,” said Roy. “But I have said it a lot; I have never met a more competitive group in my entire life. They want to win at everything. They are accountable to each other; they also have a great ability to move on. We will celebrate last year at the ring ceremony and then it will never be discussed again. We will be on to the task at hand.”

The Baycats pitching staff was nearly unbeatable last year due to the performances of Claudio Custodio. The now former Baycats ace has joined the Blue Jays with hopes of making the big squad, but Roy knows that Barrie will persevere and wishes Custodio well.

“Claudio signed with the Jays as a free agent,” said Roy. “His absence means that our pitching staff loses a little of its depth. He was a dominant arm for us last year and we were fortunate to have him. But signing with the Jays is great for him and his family and we wish him all the best and we hope he makes the majors.”

Barrie has brought back Santos Arias to the rotation and hopes he returns to his 2015 form.

Another noticeable loss for the Baycats is that of hometown boy Conner Morro, who has signed with the Brooks Bombers of the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL). Roy knows that Morro was an extremely skilled player to have on the team, but hopes Dominican-born Andersen Green will fill that spot nicely.

“Connor is playing in the WMBL with the Brooks Bombers which is a collegiate summer league and he was asked to play in one of those leagues by his college coach,” said Roy. “It’s a huge loss for us as he was great player. Anderson is a Dominican kid who has a little time with the Jays in the Dominican Summer League. We are expecting him to be a sure-handed shortstop for us. We went that route because Anderson will also be here all year including throughout the playoffs.”

The IBL allows teams to have up to four imports and the Baycats currently have three in starting pitching stud Emilis Guerrero, Arias and Green. The import talent on the team makes one player’s job even more important as Branfy Infante is always present for his fellow country-men’s interviews to help interpret. Infante has also become very popular with the fans and his teammates, developing into quite a leader on a team full of baseball wisdom.

“It is hard to put into words how important Branfy is for us,” said Roy. “Great player, great person, and his impact on our imports can’t be measured. He makes things so much easier for us from a line-up standpoint but also communicating with our imports. You can put him anywhere on the field; he is there every day, great teammate. Just a wonderful person and the type of person that every organization would love to have.”

The IBL is celebrating its 100th season this year and the Baycats will have many festivities planned to honour the centennial event.

Tickets for Sunday's game can be purchased at Centretown Sports at 649 Bayview St., Coates Fine Cars at 444 Blake St. or at Coates Stadium on game day.


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Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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