The Reston Rockets plan to be back to defend their Manitoba Senior Baseball League title in 2014.
The Rockets committed to returning to the five-team league at the MSBL’s annual meeting on Monday night, after initially indicating last season that they would not be back to join the Brandon Cloverleafs, Brandon Marlins, Oak River Dodgers and Neepawa Farmers.
However, after post-season meetings with players and team volunteers following Reston’s championship victory, the Rockets organization decided to remain in the league, which it will represent at the Canadian Senior AAA championship next August in Newfoundland.
"We contacted all the players from this year’s team and other than one or two, most of them would come back," Rockets manager Ross Tycoles said. "We’ve also recruited a few other ones, so hopefully we have more than we had last year already. So that is kind of where we are. So before we even went to the (MSBL) meeting, we had to have our own meetings to see where we were at and preparing to stay in the league.
"So I’m hopeful. I mean, I didn’t want to do this for just one year and not look at some future plans. … We went through some adversity with the flood and some other things, too, which caused other issues. But it seems like we’re good and we’re looking forward to next year, so hopefully we can bring back the same team."
League president Neil Franklin, who took over for former president Richard Lochhead midway through last season, will also return to head the MSBL in 2014.
MSBL bid turned down
The MSBL’s bid to host the 2015 Senior AAA national championship in Brandon was turned down over the weekend at Baseball Canada’s annual convention.
The tournament has been awarded to Chatham, N.B.
"I guess we were in the top (list of candidates), so it’s too bad we didn’t get it," said Tycoles, who chaired the bid committee. "I thought we had a real good bid and thought we had a good chance to get it."
The league previously hosted nationals in 2006 when it posted a modest profit and in 2008 when rain ravaged the tournament, resulting in a large loss for the host committee. However, bid parameters have changed since then, with host committees no longer on the hook to pay for team accommodations, making it easier to balance the books.
Tycoles said the MSBL may try again for the 2016 nationals.
"I think we would be interested," he said.
Olson player of the year
Reston’s Mitch Olson, a key player in the Rockets’ run to the title, will be named Baseball Manitoba’s Senior AAA player of the year at the awards banquet on Nov. 9 in Morden.
Olson was named co-MVP in the MSBL with pitcher Paul Thompson this year after hitting .354 with four home runs (tied for the league lead) and 17 RBIs (tied for second).
The Oak River Bantam AA team from the Midwest League will also be honoured as Baseball Manitoba’s grassroots team of the year after winning the provincial championship and western Canadian championship title this year.
Meanwhile, Larry Nicholls of Killarney will be inducted into the Honour Society.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 30, 2013