Cody Andreychuk

Cody Andreychuk

Coal Miners start strong

The Nanaimo Coal Miners won the Doug Conn Memorial Tournament this past weekend in Victoria.

The Nanaimo Coal Miners might have a chance to mine some gold this season.

The city’s senior men’s baseball team is fielding a talented roster in 2014 and has found immediate success.

The Coal Miners won the Doug Conn Memorial Tournament this past weekend in Victoria, finishing with a 7-2 win over the Burnaby Bulldogs in the final.

Dale Ballance, Coal Miners player-manager, said the roster numbers this year are encouraging.

“It’s always been a struggle at this time of year figuring out who we have and who’s going to be there,” he said. “We can just worry about winning ball games now.”

An influx of Vancouver Island Baseball Institute talent is noticeable. Ballance said it was something he talked about during the off-season with VIBI manager Jordan Blundell. The college guys are ready to contribute at the senior men’s level and there’s enough experience and veteran savvy at the senior level to challenge the younger guys.

“Some guys who come out and play expect that they’re going to do better than they do because they just think it’s a men’s league,” Ballance said. “But you’re facing some veteran guys that know how to play.”

The Coal Miners have around 35 games on the schedule but only six at their home park at Serauxmen Stadium.

“It’s not as much as we would have liked, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do right now and I think next year will be different,” Ballance said.

He said if the program maintains this level of participation, he’ll look at rejoining the Pacific International League, with more games, more travel and better competition.

BASE LINES … In the final of the Victoria tourney, Nick Salahub threw a seven-inning complete-game win, striking out 13 and walking none. Tyler Ulrich had two hits and three RBIs and Blundell, Aidan Goodall, Cody Pendergast and Adrian Gutierrez had two hits apiece. In the semis, a 4-2 win over the Victoria Mavericks, Pendergast was 3-for-3 with two RBIs, Ballance had two RBIs and Goodall was the winning pitcher … The Coal Miners host the Coquitlam Angels on May 31 at noon and 2:30 p.m. at Serauxmen Stadium.