Coal Miners come close

The Nanaimo Coal Miners smacked the baseball around all weekend, but fell short of a provincial championship.

The city’s Pacific International League men’s ball team placed third at the Baseball B.C. championships in Kelowna over the long weekend.

The Miners won three of five games at the tourney, starting with an 11-9 win over Prince George and a 6-5 loss to Coquitlam on Saturday. On Sunday Nanaimo shut out Kelowna 12-0, then got past Burnaby 7-6.

That game ended after midnight, however, and the team lost the next morning’s semifinal to Coquitlam 7-2.

“We weren’t quite mentally on the ball,” said Dale Ballance, player-manager. “If we’d have snuck that one out, I think we had a pretty good chance.”

But the Miners fell behind 2-0 in the first inning and couldn’t get it going.

Ballance said both losses to Coquitlam were winnable ball games, but his team didn’t do all the “little things it needed to.

Pitchers might have allowed a few too many walks, and Ballance said some miscommunication on defence also cost the team.

“That stuff shouldn’t be happening at our level and it did. You just can’t give some of those teams an opportunity and if you do, they’re going to score,” he said. “You can’t expect your offence to score five, six runs every game, it’s not always going to happen.”

In the high-scoring opener, Ballance earned the win in a relief appearance while Jeff Vickers led the offence, going 2-for-3 with a home run. Mike Collins and Ben Cairns had two hits each.

The late game Saturday Mike Collins, Ballance and Cairns had two hits each and Joey Benda suffered the complete-game loss.

In Sunday's shutout, Jason Blackey earned the win, giving up three hits over five innings. Collins was 3-for-3, Ballance was 3-for-4 and Jeff Vickers, Grant Vickers and Cody Phipps had two hits each.

The late-night contest saw Benda pick up the relief win, with Collins going 3-for-4 and Ballance, Cairns and Phipps supplying two hits apiece.

The final game Tom Entwistle took the loss, with Grant Vickers hitting safely twice.

BASE LINES … The Victoria Mavericks won the provincial championship, defeating Coquitlam 1-0 in the final.

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