Although the Reston Rockets haven’t had a Manitoba Senior Baseball League game in three weeks, the squad has managed to keep busy while preparing for the national senior baseball championship next week in St. John’s, N.L.
The Rockets, who finished third in the MSBL with an 8-11-1 record before falling to the Brandon Marlins in the semifinals, have been practising and played a pair of exhibition games against Senior AA squads in preparation for the tournament, which starts on Thursday and runs through Aug. 25.
“At least we kept some guys playing and we’re picking up some who are playing,” said manager Ross Tycoles. “It’s a combination of having practices and playing. It hasn’t been that bad. We’ll practise again on Sunday and there on Wednesday.”
The Rockets have picked up six players who are in the MSBL final. Outfielders Ryan Boguski and Nolan Jago as well as pitcher Paul Thompson of the Brandon Marlins have joined the Rockets. So have pitchers Anthony Friesen and Sean Dryden as well as first baseman and MSBL MVP Matt Gunning from the Brandon Cloverleafs.
Reston has also picked up pitchers Elliot Desilets, who spent this season with the Elmwood Giants, and Greg Hockin, who played with the Killarney Lakers. Both of them previously played with the Neepawa Farmers.
Tycoles believes the pickups fill some holes on his team’s roster that should have the Rockets fairly competitive as they prepare to take on British Columbia, Ontario 2, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
“They’re all quality pitchers who have thrown at that level,” he said. “We tried to add some hitting in the outfield and some speed. We’ve filled in with a little bit of everything, and with Thompson and Friesen and Dryden and Hockin and Zane Sawyer, we’ve got five starters who are pretty deep.”
Tycoles would like to see the Rockets at least finish in the top three in their pool and advance to the quarter-finals. To do that, he figures Reston will have to beat Newfoundland, which he believes will be the weakest team in the group, and find a way to top at least one of the other three teams, all of which should be strong.
The level of competition at nationals is a bit higher than in the MSBL with better hitters in the bottom half of the lineup, deeper bullpens and teams carrying five solid starters instead of a couple. Tycoles, however, isn’t too worried as most of his players went to nationals two years ago and he believes that experience will play a huge role for his team.
“To me, at that level, it makes quite a difference so you don’t get stage fright,” he said. “I really believe that the guys we picked up and the veterans we have means we can get the timing down and make sure we get off to a good start and play good defence. Having guys who have been there is very important.”
The Rockets open the tournament on Thursday when they take on Nova Scotia. The round robin goes through Saturday, which is also when the quarter-finals will be played. The semifinals and medal games follow on Sunday.
RESTON ROCKETS ROSTER
Name Pos. Age Hometown
Tyson Anderson 1B 21 Reston
Austin Brereton P 18 Virden
Ryan Boguski OF 38 Brandon
Elliot Desilets P 23 Elie
Sean Dryden P 35 Brandon
Anthony Friesen P 25 Somerset
Matt Gunning 1B 31 Virden
Drew Haight C 23 Cartwright
Greg Hockin P 29 Neepawa
Nolan Jago OF 22 Brandon
Andrew Lochhead SS 24 Reston
Buddy Mayert 2B 34 Reston
Mitch Olsen 3B 26 Deloraine
Brody Pinkerton P 25 Pilot Mound
Tramer Ray OF 33 Winnipeg
Zane Sawyer P 21 Virden
Cole Stober P 22 Reston
Paul Thompson P 24 Pierson
Eric Truscott OF 26 Brandon
Aaron Tycoles 1B 31 Reston
Rory Tycoles 3B 28 Reston
Head coach: Ross Tycoles
Assistant coach: Anthony Friesen
Chef de mission: Amy Tycoles