TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Jordan Robertson of the Brandon Knights dives back to first base before the ball can reach Josh Selley of the BoniVital Blacksox on a pickoff attempt during the provincial Bantam AAA baseball championship at Simplot Millennium Park on Friday. The Knights won the game 16-6 before rain interrupted the schedule.
The Brandon Bantam AAA Knights baseball team is starting to get a reputation of being a bunch of thieves, and they’re fine with that.
The squad has been trained to be very aggressive on the basepaths, and they hope that will help them win a provincial championship this weekend at Simplot Millennium Park.
They got off to a good start by stealing five bases in their 16-6 victory over the BoniVital Blacksox in their opening game of the provincial championship on Friday.
Most of those stolen bases came from hit-and-run calls. Still, James Shearer believes that number is low for what the Knights should be putting up in a game.
"That’s OK for us," said Shearer, who was timed as the team’s fastest player in training camp. "If we had even a few more (stolen bases), that would really help us out in the long run."
Shearer has been one of the leaders on the team in stolen bases this season, but he’s not the only one who’s not afraid to challenge pitchers and catchers. Marshal Burgess has also been known to get from first base to third base pretty easily and others, like Dale Penner and Jayden Sissons, both who stole bases on Friday, are also aggressive on the base paths.
It’s a mindset head coach Brad Schoonbaert has built into his players over the last few years.
"There was a development process for sure, but first and foremost you have to be blessed with the athletes and we have some very skilled, quick athletes," he said. "That’s a nice thing that we’ve been able to work with this group of guys since they were eight in certain segments of each season and quite a bit in the last four years with AAA.
"Because we were able to have the factor of some speedy guys, we’ve built it into our repertoire of what we can throw at other teams. We see it back as well, but it helps defensively and it hugely helps offensively."
It hasn’t taken long for the players to realize the importance of advancing one base and getting into scoring position. They know that can play a huge role in tight games, which they expect later on this weekend.
That’s why they’re planning on being just as aggressive for the rest of this provincial championship tournament.
"There’s no question, and every team is going to be doing the same thing," Schoonbaert said. "When you see all this good pitching, the key is to get on base and when you do, you have to be aggressive to push for that extra run because as the weekend goes on, it’s going to get harder and harder (to score). Aggressiveness is key because you want to push them hopefully into making mistakes as much as the other way of yourselves making mistakes."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 4, 2012