Guelph Royals ready to swing into Intercounty season

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Guelph Royals are set to take their first swings on the 2017 Intercounty Baseball League season on the holiday weekend.

The postponement of both games they were scheduled to play last weekend – one at home Saturday against the Hamilton Cardinals and the other at London Sunday – pushed the season opener back a week.

“It was good for us not to play last weekend,” Guelph Royals field manager Steve Scagnetti said. “We’re ready this weekend. We’ve got all our bodies here and we’re ready to go.”

The wet start to May meant that all outdoor workouts before the scheduled opener against Hamilton had been cancelled. Now they’ve had a trio of sessions at Hastings Stadium, the last one coming Tuesday night.

“The rain for that week or two just killed us,” Scagnetti said. “There were probably three or four good practices that we missed.”

The delay to start the season has the players anxious to get going. All teams except the Royals and Hamilton played at least once last weekend.

“This is crazy that we’re only having our third real practice and it’s after mid-May,” Scagnetti said.

The Royals have two home games on the holiday weekend on their schedule as they’re to host the London Majors Saturday and Kitchener Panthers in the usual Victoria Day match. Both games carry 2 p.m. starting times.

London defeated the Burlington Herd 17-4 and Brantford Red Sox 8-6 last weekend while Kitchener doubled Burlington 4-2 and lost 11-7 to the defending champion Barrie Baycats. London finished atop the standings at the end of the regular season last year with a 28-9 record while Kitchener was second at 27-10. The Royals were eighth in the eight-team league at 7-29.

“One and two from last year,” Scagnetti said. “Trial by fire, let’s get right at it. You’ve got to play somebody and what better test than the top two to see what we’ve got, what we’re capable of and what we’ve got right now.”

The Royals will have a different lineup than last year. Their roster lists seven returnees – pitchers Evan DiMichelle, Daniel Marquez, Ben Reid and Adrian Yuen, catcher Blake Kauer, first baseman Matt Schmidt and outfielder Jeff MacLeod.

“At last count, we’ve changed out 17 players from last year,” Scagnetti said. “It’s a facelift.”

It also means the Royals will have to do a little team bonding to come together as a unit.

“We’ve got a lot of talented ball players,” Scagnetti said. “We’ve got to do some things as a team to build some chemistry and try a couple of guys in different positions to see where everybody’s strengths and weaknesses are.

“It’s just being together and doing team things like they are now goofing around after practice, getting extra reps in and having fun and laughing. That’s a key. That’s a big thing. If you don’t have team chemistry, you’re not going to accomplish anything.”