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Gorneault Leads the Bees Down Final Stretch08/25/2010 5:20 PM ET
By Danny Rasmussen / Salt Lake Bees
Outfielder Nick Gorneault has 10 seasons of professional baseball under his belt but is still looking for his first championship.
"I've been on teams where we were close but it was just one or two plays that made the difference," recalled Gorneault. "Unfortunately for us they went the wrong way."
He hopes this Bees team is different.
With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Bees find themselves two and a half games out of first place and with an uphill battle before them.
"We have a little bit of catching up to do here with Tacoma and that's our main focus right now," said Bees' team captain Nick Gorneault. "We're just trying to make the playoffs."
If the Bees are able to once again make the playoffs, it would be the third time Gorneault would play in the PCL posteason for Salt Lake. On his first stint in the Angels organization, Gorneault played a critical role on the 2006 and 2007 Division Championship squads that made it to the postseason.
Now on his second stint with the club and in his 10th season of professional baseball, the 31-year-old outfielder is once again leading the Bees down the final stretch and is making sure he brings his younger, less experienced teammates along with him.
"We've got a good team here and we just need to make sure that down the stretch, we have 24 guys who all have the same focus, which is to come to the ballpark every day with the same mentality that we need to win that game."
But with September call-ups a few days away (they officially take effect September 1), maintaining that continuity can be tough, particularly down the stretch run of a long season.
But what Gorneault is trying to do is show his younger teammates that no matter who is on the field, the mission is the same.
"Over the course of the season it's easy to have ups-and-downs with all the travel and the tough schedule, but when the end is in sight, there's no time to be sore or tired or nervous because it's crunch time."
"You know, we've got a lot of guys in a bunch of situations [with September call-ups, injuries, late-season fatigue, etc.]," said the captain, "but we still have to treat every game like 13 mini-seasons where each one is a must-win."
"As long as we are all focused on that same goal, every thing else will take care of itself."
Gorneault understands, though, that this "crunch time" is the best time of the year to play baseball.
"I mention to the [younger] guys that when the games mean more and there's the added pressure of a pennant race, this is when it's really fun."
"We've got to take care of business. The other teams don't help you out down the stretch and right now we're right on [Tacoma's] heels. We don't worry about what they're doing, we just have to take care of business."
And if they do, they could be the first team in Salt Lake Bees history to hoist that illusive PCL Championship trophy, and no one would be happier than Nick Gorneault.