'The guys have needed this:' P.E.I.'s top baseball team returns to the diamond

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Charlottetown's Josh Myers swings at a pitch against the Saint John Alpines on Saturday. (Shane Ross/CBC - image credit)
Charlottetown's Josh Myers swings at a pitch against the Saint John Alpines on Saturday. (Shane Ross/CBC - image credit)

The crack of the bat, the chatter from the dugout and the cheers from the stands were welcome sounds in Charlottetown this weekend as senior baseball returned after a one-year absence due to COVID-19.

"You can tell that the guys have needed this for a long time now," said Myles Grady, general manager and coach of the Charlottetown Gaudet's Auto Body Islanders.

"It's excellent for the players, for the officials and for the fans. It's helping to get some sense of normalcy and I'm really glad that we were able to get some sort of schedule going."

The Islanders play in the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League. Last season was the first in the 92-year history of the circuit that a champion was not declared.

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC

This season will feature just three teams — Charlottetown, Moncton and Saint John.

Fredericton was unable to field a team, but is expected back next year. Chatham will play in a local intermediate league but will join the NBSBL as the fourth playoff team at the end of August.

"I think if we didn't get a league going this year, gosh knows, it may have ended it," Grady said.

The season officially got underway June 6, but because of border restrictions Charlottetown played its first games July 11 in Moncton.

The Islanders played their first home games Saturday. They have a 2-2 record.

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC

"There's been a lot of fans waiting to see some baseball, some high-calibre baseball," Grady said. "This league and such is the highest amateur baseball product in the country so the guys are pumped up pretty good."

Grady said the Islanders look "pretty bloody good."

He said the pitching is especially strong, led by veteran Jordan Stevenson, his brother J.P. Stevenson, and 18-year-old left-hander Tanner MacLean.

The Islanders' next home game is July 24 versus Moncton.

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