VIBI Mariners looking ahead

VIBI Mariners catcher Jeremy Harasymchuk tosses the ball back to the pitcher in between innings of an exhibition game against the Sherwood Park Athletics on Tuesday at Serauxmen Stadium. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
VIBI Mariners catcher Jeremy Harasymchuk tosses the ball back to the pitcher in between innings of an exhibition game against the Sherwood Park Athletics on Tuesday at Serauxmen Stadium.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

The VIBI Mariners gained a little spring in their step this week that they’ll try to carry forward.

Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Baseball Institute college ball team will try again Saturday (April 5) and Sunday to play its home openers after getting rained out on opening day last week.

Despite the weather woes, the Mariners haven’t been idle. On Tuesday their patience was rewarded with a fine day for baseball, and it was good timing as the Sherwood Park Athletics high school team was visiting from Alberta to check out Nanaimo, Vancouver Island University and the VIBI program. Jordan Blundell, Mariners manager, said his guys did a great job being ambassadors for their ball club and university.

“There was some connections made there,” he said. “Some of the guys that are in our program were on that trip three years ago when they first started doing it, so it’s cool to see that come full circle.”

There’s still snow in Edmonton, so the A’s were grateful to get on the field for some morning batting practice before playing a doubleheader against the M’s. The men won 11-2 and 8-2 against the boys.

“Baseball’s baseball and you still have to hit the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball,” said Cody Pendergast, VIBI shortstop.

Whether exhibition games, league games or intra-squad drills, there are always opportunities to improve, Blundell said.

“That’s what we’re hoping, that our guys figure something out about themselves every game they play and add it to their repertoire – if they are able to read a ball in the dirt, or do something a little bit better on the basepaths, or … be engaged mentally,” he said.

The Mariners have been talking a lot about their mental approach since their last league games. It can be challenging in a sport with a staccato sort of flow.

“Being locked in when you need to be locked in – that’s the trick in baseball,” the manager said.

Pendergast said it’s important to “let the ball come to us” and not try to do too much.

“Don’t focus too much on their guys or on any factors we can’t control,” he said. “Go out there, take care of business and put it in our own hands.”

So that will be part of the game plan this weekend against the University of Calgary Dinos. The fact that the visiting team is coming so far to play ball means the Mariners are determined to get the games in.

“We’re definitely chomping at the bit here.” said Pendergast. “We can’t wait to get back on the field and get some more season games under our belt.”

GAME ON … Saturday’s games are at noon and 2:30 p.m. at Serauxmen Stadium; Sunday’s games are at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Admission is $2.

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