The Richmond Cougars lost in the semi-finals at the 15U A Tier 1 Baseball Provincials last weekend at the Petit de Grat ballfield.

PETIT DE GRAT: Although they fell short in the semi-final, the coach of the Richmond Cougars said he was proud of how his team played and how the provincial tournament went last weekend.

Richmond was eliminated from the six-team 15U A Tier 1 Provincial Baseball Tournament on Sept. 4 at the Petit de Grat ballfield, losing to the eventual champion Yarmouth Gateways 14-5.

“We had a wonderful summer,” Richmond Coach Stewart Kelly told The Reporter. “Nothing but positives. I would have liked the bats to get going, as far as our weekend and that’s what kind of did us in. The pitching was there and the fielding for the most part.”

The Cougars got off to a great start in the tournament, beating Mira Road 14-2 on Sept. 2 in Petit de Grat, before losing their second game 5-0 the next morning to the Sydney Blue Jays.

Facing elimination, Richmond came through with a 9-1 win over the Dartmouth Arrows in the afternoon, allowing them to finish second after round robin play with a record of 2-1.

After going 4-4 to start the year, Kelly said his team went on a tear to finish with a record of 18-5 in the 15U A Bluenose League, including a 4-0 road trip against Hammonds Plains and Prospect. The Cougars also won both games in a double-header against Dartmouth in Louisdale.

“We had a slow start and it’s hard with numbers, we basically had 12 kids in our group. We didn’t make a cut on the team to start this year so everybody made the team and then you try to compete at a Bluenose A level and still fair up well is pretty awesome,” he recalled. “We seemed to be kind of sputtering at first but then we seemed to come around and the bats came around. Our pitching, fielding, and team defence got better through the year.”

Since this year was the 75th anniversary of the Petit de Grat and the 50th anniversary of the Little Anse Hawks, Kelly said they wanted to host provincials this year, and they were awarded the tournament a month ago by Baseball Nova Scotia.

The coach said he received many messages from coaches and parents who claimed this was the best provincials they ever attended. Kelly gave credit to the parents and other volunteers like tournament chair Shawn Samson, as well as Ray Poirier and Warren Olsen who helped maintain the Louisdale and Petit de Grat fields respectively.

Kelly also mentioned the efforts of Gary David who was the official scorer, while Craig Harvey was the official pitch counter.

“They did a heck of a job, for sure. And it started with our parent group,” he said. “My wife as team manager, she did a ton of work, doing up the program, sending emails, and we were on Zoom conferences about being the hosts, and what criteria we had to meet.”

Kelly said the umpiring, under the direction of regional director Eddie Bungay, was excellent.

The coach said the crowds were large all weekend, and the team received strong support from the local business community which helped sponsor the tournament.

Kelly said they tried to offer a positive experience for all those involved.

“Perfect weather and a perfect field,” he noted. “It went super well, and the parents stepped up, from ice and water, and field maintenance, to every part of it. It went well; there were no snags, so that’s all we can ask for.”

Noting the contributions of coaches Mark Samson, Road Samson, and Angele Richard, Kelly said the team would not have been successful without their guidance.

Kelly added the hope for next year is to field an 18U team out of Richmond County.

“They’re a mature group,” the coach said of his team. “The main part of our core is moving up.”