Baseballers vow to come back stronger

Tyrone Milne, left, with Haydon Matthee, his teammate at Bellville and the SA team that was to play at the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in the USA.

Three Cape Town baseballers looking to don the colours of the national senior side for the first time saw their dreams being put on hold for a bit longer.

Sport across the globe has been cancelled to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The 29-member South African senior baseball side had already assembled in Tucson, Arizona, in the United States of America, for the World Baseball Classic qualifiers when the news came that the tournament was cancelled due to the outbreak of the virus.

The news actually came two days before the first ball was pitched in the tournament.

The SA side jetted back to the country where all the members of the team had to quarantine for 14 days.

Though the decision was understandable, there was a lot of disappointment for the side, particularly the six South Africans who were to play for their country for the first time at a senior level.

Three of those players are based in the US while the others are from Cape Town.

Jayson Ripepi, 28, from Westridge, had never played for South Africa before, not even at junior level and this was a dream come through for him.

The former Westridge Yankees stalwart, and current Maitland Giants pitcher/shot-stopper, had never even been a part of a training camp before getting the news that he was to take a flight to America.

However, his dream of wearing the SA colours are yet to be realised as the world still battles the virus.

“It’s not the end of the world so we will come back after this and continue to work hard and I will get my chance,” he said.

Unlike Ripepi, Tyrone Milne has been a part of the national setup from under-16 level and went on to captain the SA under-17 side that came out tops of the African qualifiers for the World Cup that took place in Japan in 2015.

He went on to play for under-18s and the under-23 side that also made it to the World Cup in Mexico in 2016. The 23-year-old was always destined to graduate to the senior side, having represented SA in many of the junior levels.

Milne, from Bloubergstrand, is a member of Bellville Tygers and this too was to be his first time representing his country at senior level. He made the squad that took part in the African Olympic qualifiers last year but did not start a game.

“I have been dreaming about that moment for a very long time and when it finally came I was over the moon because it meant all the hard work I put in was being recognised.

“We understand that it was a good decision to cancel but the dream lives on. I will continue working hard for my spot.”

At 31 years old, Tyrone Baglione feels he is still going to be around for a long time now that he is finally part of the SA squad.

Even though the Durbanville player is yet to make his debut he feels the experience he gained by just being a part of the team will play a massive impact in his playing career going forward.

“We were very disappointed but there is nothing we can do about it, everyone has to play a role in dealing with the spread of this virus.”