It has been a long road back for the Amherst Weston Athletics.
After nearly a decade without intermediate baseball, the Athletics returned to the Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League and have enjoyed a respectable season despite having one of the league’s youngest lineups.
That work is being rewarded this weekend as the Athletics host the 2019 Baseball Nova Scotia Intermediate AA Championships at the Robb Centennial Complex.
“It’s a real plus for our ball club to be given this opportunity,” coach Bill Jobes said. “It has been nearly a decade since Amherst has had an intermediate team and now we’re being given an opportunity to win a provincial championship at home.”
Amherst will make up Pool A with the Pictou County Albions and the Truro Bearcats while Pool B includes the Pictou County Royals as well as Tri-County from the Halifax league and Cape Breton.
The Athletics have enjoyed success against both Pictou County teams and the Bearcats, but has yet to face either Tri-County or Cape Breton.
Action begins at 1 p.m. Friday when the Athletics play the Royals while Amherst hosts Tri-County on Saturday at 8 a.m. and plays Cape Breton at 3:30 p.m.
The semifinals are Sunday at 9 and 11:30 a.m. with the championship game at 2 p.m.
All the games will be at the main baseball field at the complex, although the Dwight Jones Field will be used for one game at 6 p.m. on Saturday with Truro playing Tri-County.
“The guys are pretty excited,” Jobes said. “I think we have a good shot to win it. We’re a young team but we’ve been very competitive. It takes a long time to get settled in this league, but we’ve done pretty good. You look at a team like Noel Road. They’ve done well because they have a group of players who have played together for a long time and know how to win. We have young guys, who are still learning to play as a team. In a couple of years, we could be a force in this league.”
Pitching and defence will be two keys for the Athletics to be successful, Jobes said. With Adam McAloney, who played senior ball with the Truro Bearcats, and Logan Dowe, the Athletics have two guys who can throw the ball hard while another former Bearcat pitcher lefty Justin Morton gives Amherst lots of depth in the starting staff.
There’s also Brandon Greeno and Brady Davis, who played intermediate in Truro last season along with several of their teammates including Morgan Jobes, Andrew Skinner played college baseball at the University of New Brunswick and twins Nate and Mats Stone won a Nova Scotia Midget AAA championship with Truro last season.
Cody Sutton and Gus Tupper are both back playing after not playing several years and the same is true of Brad Blenkhorn while Cole Stevens is playing both with the Athletics and the Midget Athletics. Joining Jobes on the coaching staff is Darren Collins.
“We’re deep on the mound and we’re usually pretty good in the field,” Jobes said. “Our bats have come a long way from the first of the year. One of the biggest things we need to do to be successful is be consistent and avoid the ups and downs.”
Jobes said sponsorship has played a big role in getting the team off the ground including major sponsor Weston Foods, Maritime Pride Eggs, Cumberland Honda and A.D. MacEachern Insurance while Costin Paving and Bluewave Energy are coming on board as provincial tournament sponsor.