After 22 months of waiting, the time has finally come for New Brunswick baseball fans to bring back the pillow, the light, the foul ball and hit and run into the conversations. The Miramichi Valley Intermediate Baseball League started a new season on Wednesday night and the atmosphere, at least on the side of the three francophone teams, is celebrating.
In the camp of Aigles de Tracadie, reigning champion in the regular season 2019, head coach Robert Arsenault is so optimistic that he even predicts a championship at the end of the season.
“We have the club to make it happen,” he said. We have great depth on the mound, excellent offense and also good defense. We’re going to be very hard to beat. It’s actually a long time since I saw Eagles with such great depth. This is a problem that is very nice to have. ”
Among the acquisitions that should have a significant impact on the success of the club, we note the recipient Martin Bergeron, a guy who played big baseball in Quebec at senior and junior level. Not only is he expected to lead the casts well, but we believe he can also contribute to the offense with his punch.
The return of Frédéric-Denis Benoît, after a few seasons with the Miramichi Cardinals, should also help. Benoit can develop at shortstop and the mound.
Speaking of pitchers, Robert Arsenault will also be able to rely on left-handed Luc Roy, as well as right-handed Rémi Légère, Brett Francis, Hugo LeBouthillier and Zoël Benoît.
The other regulars will be Olivier Landry at first cushion, Rémi Légère at second base, Yannick Holmes at third cushion, Ghislain Haché as left field, star player Kevin Landry in center and Rémi Comeau on right.
The team also includes Gary Duguay, Raphaël Robichaud and Jean-François Rousselle.
It is without forgetting that assistant coach Martin Albert will also be able to give an occasional hand to the first pillow.
It was the Eagles who started the season on Wednesday night by visiting the Cardinals. The same two teams met on Thursday at Raoul-Losier Park.
In Restigouche, the Dalhousie Dodgers decided to focus on the youth. If you ignore the musty Serge Lebel, first baseman Kyle Parker and midfielder Mike Marcello who are all 35 years or older, everyone else is 25 years or younger.
“If all these kids get together, I have a feeling the Dodgers will be a really good team in two years,” said head coach Roger Hickey. In addition, we have a great success that comes through our dwarf program. There are more boys who can come and help us soon. It is now the young people’s turn, and we have made the decision to give them this chance. “
“There will not be many bearded boys on the team,” laughs Hickey.
Hickey also likes the team’s depth at the mound. Besides Serge Lebel, he can also rely on Brayden Lebel, Olivier Gendron, Keith Bouchard, Elliott Parker, Jérémie Doucet, Jonathan Doucet and Francis Bérubé.
Normally, Francis Bérubé (receiver), Jonathan Doucet (first cushion), Boyd Caplan (second baseman), Elliott Parker (third baseman), Olivier Gendron (shortstop), Keith Bouchard (left fielder), Samuel Gendron (midfielder) and Jérémie Doucet (right player) will take the usual positions. However, Kyle Parker, Mike Marcello, Jayden Hickey, Joey Bernard and Marc-Olivier Roy, among others, will have their say.
“We have the kind of club that can cause surprises,” warns Roger Hickey. We will especially be very fast on the slopes. The boys are looking forward to playing. They have been preparing for the season for a month and a half now, and there are always at least 14 boys in each training session. ”
The Dodgers started the season Thursday night by visiting the Chatham Head Tigers, reigning playoff champions in 2019. On Friday, the same two teams will meet in Dalhousie starting at 8 p.m.
Acadians of Caraquet
We had to pick a team to face the Chatham Ironmen, and fate will have fallen on the Acadians of Caraquet. The two teams were to meet on Thursday night at Ironmen Park, then in Caraquet on Friday. In both cases, the matches start at 19.30.
For those who missed a bit, Ironmen played until very recently at senior level, a game caliber that was much stronger than the intermediate one.
“The guys are ready, but we have work to do,” said Acadian player-coach Frédéric Lanteigne with humor.
Like the Eagles and Dodgers, the Acadians will also be able to rely on a depth that is rarely seen on the mound. In addition to the excellent Yan Rail, at least seven other shooters will see action this season, namely Frédéric Lanteigne, Frédéric Haché, Alexandre Noël, Samuel Cormier, Samuel Ferron, Justin David and Jack Robichaud.
Acadians will be able to rely on a few new faces to give a new dynamic to the team.
This is the case with left fielder David Hamel, receiver Guillaume Benoît and the versatile Jack Robichaud, who can play as much on the mound as on the first pad or on the third base. Martin Duguay, who is only 17, is another who will be able to contribute.
“David Hamel seems like a good hit, Guillaume gives good intensity and Jack is very versatile. As for the young Duguay, he has the same aggression as his father Marc, who will be my assistant, Lanteigne reports.
That said, the regular list will normally be set up, in addition to Benoît and Hamel, first goals Frédéric Lanteigne, second goals and fifty-year-old Christian Thériault, who has nevertheless benefited from discounts from certain companies for a few years now, from stop Yan Rail to third baseman André-Oliva Roussel, midfielder Frédéric Landry and right-hander Jolin Mallet.
Among the other players on the team we find the young Marc-André Landry.