Call them the boys of spring.
The Garden City Fighting Gophers boys baseball team is hoping for a sweet, albeit short, season.
Part of the Kilcona Peguis Athletic Conference (KPAC), the Gophers season runs like a quick tournament, with the team playing games against Lord Selkirk, Springfield and Maples. The top team advances to play the winner of the West Winnipeg Athletic Conference (WWAC) on Wed., May 21 at Shaw Park. The winner of that game advances to provincials, which take place May 29 to 31 in Brandon.
The Gophers won its first two games easily, defeating Lord Selkirk 18-3 and Springfield 15-0 on Fri., May 9. Results from the Gophers game on Fri., May 16 against Maples were not available before press time.
Gophers coach Donnie Smith, a former Winnipeg Goldeyes pitcher and a Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame member, said the team has a good mix of players, including some with Triple-A baseball experience.
"Every guy so far has been making good contact and putting a lot of balls in play, and our pitching has been really good," Smith said.
"I have two boys who got the wins on Friday (May 9). Jarrod Vincent and Adam Wowryk both threw really well for us. Jarrod threw a complete game. Also, having a good catcher is a huge bonus and that would be Tyler Wood."
Vincent, a Grade 12 player and former member of the North Winnipeg Pirates AAA team, said Wood, a Grade 10 player and current Pirate, is the backbone of the Gophers.
"He’s a big part of team," said Vincent, 18, a West St. Paul resident.
"He catches the ball and keeps the ball in front of him. There are no passed balls. He calls all the pitches. Basically he runs the infield with the pitcher."
Wowryk, a Grade 12 player and former Pirate, said Wood is just as valuable at the plate.
"In the last two games, I don’t think he’s got out. I think he’s eight for eight at bat," said Wowryk, 18, a Tyndall Park resident.
But it’s not just a star catcher leading the way. Vincent said every aspect of the team was strong in its first two games.
"Our pitching was good. We all threw strikes and there was no walking," said Vincent, who plays shortstop when he’s not on the mound.
"We had some good fielding. Our outfield was on point and our infield was pretty good too, although there were little errors. All-around we played some strong games."
The Gophers advanced to provincials last year, but weren’t able to do any damage. Vincent said he doesn’t see any reason why the Gophers can’t make some noise this season.
"If everyone is putting in 100 per cent, we’ll do just fine, but we need all nine guys on the field going as hard as they can," Vincent said.