Men’s baseball in Nanaimo is as strong as ever, and provincials could prove it.
The Nanaimo Coal Miners host the PWB B.C. Senior Baseball Association Championships Friday through Monday (July 29-Aug. 1) at Serauxmen Stadium.
It will be the first time Nanaimo has hosted provincials since the formation of the Coal Miners Baseball League last year. The league has provided a place to play for the city’s ball players, but its other purpose was to create a pool from which to draw talent. That talent now gets put to the test.
“I think the league itself has really pushed the excitement and the amount of players that want to be involved now,” said Bryan Dumesnil, Coal Miners manager.
Dale Ballance, Miners player and general manager, said the league has brought a lot of former Nanaimo Pirates players back out to the ballpark.
“We really wanted [them] to be a part of our association,” he said. “That’s really helped and it’s turned out to be a pretty tight-knit group. Everyone gets along and has a lot of fun.”
The Coal Miners find themselves in the enviable position of going into provincials with a full dugout, and even had to make a few cuts. Dumesnil said having a full roster gives him the “tools to manage the game the right way.”
Pitchers Alex Rogers and Kenton Schroter, infielders Brady Rogers, Justin Clarkson and Jordan Romine and outfielder Shawn Arabsky are some of the guys who will suit up for the Coal Miners.
“It’s exciting. We’re kind of getting back to those younger players that we kind of had lost…” Dumesnil said. “If every guy plays to their level, I think we’re going to be competitive.”
Eight teams are involved. The Miners are in a pool with Coquitlam, who had to get through Lower Mainland playoffs, and Trail and Prince George.
“You can’t take any team lightly; you never know what [they] will have,” said Ballance. “They’re all putting their best teams they can on the field, so it’s always going to be competitive.”
The Miners anticipate hometown support. They’ve moved the centre-field fence in from 405 feet to 385 feet to accommodate outfield bleachers with a beer garden.
“I think that’s going to create a unique experience,” said Ballance. “I think guys in our league are pretty excited about it, a lot of people are like, ‘oh, that’s cool.’”
GAME ON … Nanaimo plays the Coquitlam Angels on Friday at 6 p.m., takes on the Trail Orioles on Saturday at 6 p.m. and faces the Prince George Greys on Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission to the stadium is $5 per day or $15 for a tournament pass. Another local team, the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Muckers, plays games across the street at Mariner Field. The Muckers start off against the Kamloops Sun Devils on Friday at 3 p.m., face the Victoria Mavericks on Saturday at noon and then play the Burnaby Bulldogs on Sunday at 9 a.m. Semifinals will be Sunday at 6 p.m., with the final on Monday at 12:30 p.m.