The Comox Valley Cubs hit the road last week for the 23rd annual Roy Hobbs World Series in Fort Myers, Fla. And so far, the road has not been straight and smooth!
The first turbulence occurred as several players were delayed en route – stuck in Vancouver when a bird hit the jet, then bumped in Atlanta, and finally arriving 14 hours later than planned. Others arrived on time but their luggage did not. A few had uneventful travel.
Then the weather was not cooperative to start. “During our first three years in Florida, we had all of three hours of clouds one Wednesday morning in 2009 – the rest of the time had been bright and warm,” said Kevin Dobbelsteyn. “But our arrival in 2011 was greeted with heavy clouds and cool temperatures, and even a brief shower as we drove from the airport.”
On Saturday the Cubs had their practice at the newly renovated Terry Park complex, and the team began to gel. “We got some of the kinks out, worked the arms and bats, and set our sights on Sunday’s game against the Bergen (New Jersey) Yankees,” Dobbelsteyn said.
But the Yankees became the latest bump in the road for the Valley team. Although the defence had a fine game, the offence did not, and the Yankees prevailed 6-0.
Ron Freeman led the fielders with several fine catches, starting with a long running ice-cream-catch in foul territory off the first batter of the game. “One batter in and the team felt that this was our game to win,” said Dobbelsteyn. Gary Ardron and Kelly McGiffen also had stellar plays in the field, and newcomer Don Keltch caught four excellent innings behind the plate inhis first action in 16 years.
A highlight was a rare 1-5-3 ground out. With a Yankee on second, a sharp ground ball was hit back to pitcher and manager Dave Fauteux. With the runner on second apparently taking off for third, the accurate throw was made to Dobbelsteyn on third. However, the runner stayed on second, so the play continued with the throw to Jake Plante at first for the rather non-routine out.
The Yankee pitcher went the full nine innings, giving up just four hits and a couple of walks. Although the Cubs threatened a couple of times, the sputtering of the bats was rather loud and long. “Things are certain to improve as the week progresses,” Dobbelsteyn said.
That improvement came Monday afternoon as the Cubs’ bats warmed up, but the defence was somewhat lacking as they dropped a 12-11 nail-biter to the Orlando StoneAge. After the Comox Valley crew had built up a lead of 11-5 the Stoners scored seven in the eighth inning to take the game. The time limit was reached part-way through the eighth.
“With the scored tied at 11, the bases loaded and one out, with both the infield and outfield in tight, a short fly ball was hit to centre-fielder Scottie Murray,” said Dobbelsteyn. “He threw a strike to Dale Greene at home plate for the double play and a tie game, but the umpire had a bad moment and the game was lost.”
The Cubs are scheduled to meet the Washington Nationals on Tuesday and Kent (Ohio) Mudhens on Wednesday. That will wrap up pool play, at which point seedings will be established for the playoffs, to be held Thursday through Saturday.
Keep watching the Record for updates.