If the Nanaimo Coal Miners went through some rough stretches this season, well, those are long forgotten.
“What our record is, we don’t care, that’s not what it’s about,” said player-manager Dale Ballance. “It’s about preparing for this weekend and that’s what we do is just try to get ready and have everyone hot at this time of year … This is the tournament that we live for.”
The city’s Pacific International League baseball team (14-16) is in Kelowna for the long weekend competing in Baseball B.C.’s men’s championships.
Every year the Coal Miners are in contention at the big tourney. Last year Nanaimo’s home-run-happy lineup made it to the B.C. championship game, but lost.
They might have run out of pitching arms in that tournament, but they don’t think that will be the case this time. Nanaimo is bringing the maximum allowable roster to the Okanagan including a full complement of throwers.
“Our pitchers are starting to fill up the strike zone a little bit better,” Ballance said. “Earlier on we’d had a few weekends there where we were walking way too many.”
Miners player Cole McKaig said he’s seen some good pitching performances of late, and has also noticed good things at the plate.
“We’ve been having some pretty good at bats; we’ve got the bats going,” he said.
BASE LINES … The Coal Miners ended their PIL schedule with an 8-2 loss at Victoria on Sunday, but swept the Northwest Honkers Saturday and Sunday at Serauxmen Stadium by scores of 2-0, 4-0 and 10-4. Joey Benda was the hero in the narrow victory, as he threw a complete-game no-hitter while striking out 11. Mike Collins homered and scored both the Coal Miners’ runs. The second game saw Jordan Rogers earn the win on the mound, while Ballance went 3-for-3 at the plate. In the series finale, Jon Przybyl was the winning pitcher and Collins hit another dinger and drove in three runs. Ballance hit two doubles. In Sunday’s late game, Bill Hadden had two hits.