Greg Mercer, Record staff
KITCHENER — The Kitchener Panthers’ ageless slugger Sean Reilly has been named the Intercounty Baseball League’s Most Valuable Player, for the fourth time since 2011.
Reilly’s put up some of the best offensive numbers of his career as the Panthers designated hitter, hitting 19 home runs, 56 RBI and a .448 average — good enough for his second Triple Crown since 2015.
And he did it all at the age of 40, making him the league’s oldest everyday player. But Reilly, whose Panthers were swept in the finals by Barrie, has long maintained he’s less driven by individual records than he is the pursuit of a championship.
“As you get older, you don’t expect to have a season like that,” he said, after the loss in Game 4. “But it all doesn’t really matter. I came to win a championship, so I couldn’t really care what happened during the regular season.”
The MVP award was announced as part of the league’s annual all-star selections. Joining Reilly as a first-team all-star are teammates Tanner Nivins, Justin Interisano and Yorbis Borroto.
Nivins, the 2016 MVP who hit .365 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in just 85 at-bats, fought his way back from a debilitating attack of ulcerative colitis that left him hospitalized before the season.
“Last year might have been an MVP season, but I’m more proud of myself this year. Coming out to the field every day wasn’t easy. I’ve never played through aches and pains like that before,” he said.
Interisano, meanwhile, provided a steady glove and a jolt of power to the Panthers lineup. The first baseman hit eight home runs and 31 RBI, while batting .336. Shortstop Borroto was a smooth-fielding sparkplug at the top of the order, hitting .389 with a team-best 30 walks and 56 hits.
Three other Panthers were awarded second-team all-star selections. Catcher Yulexis La Rosa hit .378 and was as reliable as backstops come. Pitcher Jasvir Rakkar, who won three games in the playoffs, owned a tidy 2.27 earned run average, striking out 36 over 35 innings.
The third selection went to manager Dave teBoekhorst, who led Kitchener to a 28-8 regular season record — their best result since 1993. The skipper, who says he won’t be coming back in 2018, owns a 81-28 record in his three season at the helm of the Panthers.