Strong-armed VIBI Mariners start season

Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners pitcher Connor Russell throws in the bullpen at practice Tuesday afternoon at Serauxmen Stadium. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners pitcher Connor Russell throws in the bullpen at practice Tuesday afternoon at Serauxmen Stadium.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Over the course of a ball season, pitchers start to learn about opposing players and find out what pitches might work, or might not work.

This Saturday (March 24), they won’t have much of a scouting report – it’s opening day, the start of baseball in Nanaimo.

The Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners will host a pair of doubleheaders this weekend at Serauxmen Stadium against the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs.

With limited knowledge about the opposing lineup, the M’s pitchers will simply be asked to play to their strengths.

“We want our guys going at them with their best stuff, with what they feel is their most successful pitch in certain counts and be aggressive with it,” said Jordan Blundell, VIBI manager.

Matt Davis, left-handed pitcher, said the strategy is basically to keep attacking opposing batters and watch how they react.

“Right now you assume that you’re always better than them until they prove you otherwise,” he said. “And then you’ve got to go at them a different way.”

The Mariners plan to put former Nanaimo Pirates right-hander Cody Chartrand on the mound for the opening-day start Saturday, with righty Connor Russell next in line for a start.

“That’s a strength of our team, is the pitching staff. Their dedication and their work ethic kind of lead our ball club,” said Blundell. “We’re looking for them to do a good job for us, keep us in some games and maybe win some for us.”

Russell said the staff is a good mix, as the pitchers can each bring a unique skill-set to the mound.

“Something that we work on in indoor practices and out here on the field is do what’s comfortable for you,” he said. “If what you’re doing is working, then keep on doing it.”

At this early stage of the season, the Mariners hitters might still be finding their rhythm at the plate, so the pitchers feel a bit of pressure. And they don’t mind that.

“We want to keep the score down as low as possible…” said Russell. “If we do our job we know that the hitters are going to do theirs and they’re going to do what it takes to scratch a few runs across for us.”

Davis said it’s fun, after an off-season, to be on the mound again staring down a batter in live competition. There are going to be plenty of those matchups to look forward to this season in the Canadian College Baseball Conference.

“The conference is pretty tight,” Blundell said. “There will be a lot of close games. I think there will be a lot of good battles and a lot of games that will come down to the last inning.”

BASE LINES … Nanaimo's VIBI Mariners open the Canadian College Baseball Conference season Saturday (March 24) with a doubleheader against the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs. Game times are 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at Serauxmen Stadium. The teams play rematches Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Admission is free all season long to VIBI home games … To read last week's article on the VIBI Mariners, please click here.

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