Some baseball teams talk about swinging for the fences and some teams back it up.
The Nanaimo Hub City Paving Pirates will hit the baseball, they’ll hit it often, and they’ll hit it a long way this season.
The city’s B.C. Premier Baseball League team holds its home opener this Sunday (April 19) at Serauxmen Stadium when the Abbotsford Cardinals come to town.
The Pirates began league play last weekend with two wins and two losses. It was an inconsistent start, but an encouraging one, too, as the offence was prolific.
“We’re a confident group,” said Doug Rogers, Pirates manager. “I haven’t seen a group like this in a while.”
The Pirates are setting high standards for themselves, as players are already talking about making the PBL’s championship tournament and the possibility of winning it all.
“With this team, with these players and our group, the way we’ve bonded together, we definitely have that potential,” said Zach Diewert, Pirates outfielder.
Here’s a look at the 2015 Pirates:
Don’t tell the Pirates that it takes batters a while, at the start of the season, to get their timing at the plate. They scored at least seven runs in all four of their games last weekend.
“Really, we’re not even all the way there for our offence; there’s still a little bit more execution we could do,” said Diewert, who led the way with two home runs and 11 RBIs.
Diewert is the cleanup hitter, with Cole Warken batting in the No. 3 slot. North Rainey and Matt Skingle both started the year with productive weekends at the plate, Shawn Arabsky and Garrett Goodall are other middle-of-the-order guys and Shane Rogers has been the leadoff man.
The manager said the Pirates will work hard to get the runs against down. It will take a mix of hard work and settling into the season.
“We just really need to focus on throwing strikes,” said Goodall. “Some of the guys were just trying to be a bit too fine with their pitches but if they just throw strikes, hitters will get themselves out.”
Goodall will get the start in the Pirates’ home opener and brings stability to the staff.
“He’s a guy that does throw strikes, who does get the first batter out,” Doug Rogers said. “He does all the things that we ask for.”
Robert Busch, Sam Baker, North Rainey, Bryce Berg-Stromquist and Aaron Page are some of the other members of the staff and Josh Burgmann will join the team later this summer.
Goodall said the pitching staff consists of veteran, hard throwers.
“It’s a bunch of guys who have really improved; it’s good to see,” he said.
At the premier level, every team has players come and go every season, so every team is working on defensive chemistry at this time of year.
“We tell our guys, hey, you’ve earned your spot, go out there and play, have some fun,” the manager said. “Mistakes will happen. If there were no mistakes it would be 0-0 and it would be awfully boring.”
Warken is the starting catcher, Skingle plays first, Shane Rogers will be at second, Page at shortstop and newcomer Kevin Sengara at third. Diewert plays centre field with Rainey in left and Goodall or Josh Carless-Jones in right.
Adam McLeod and Chris Vlaj are backup catchers.
The Pirates are pumped up about getting into their home park this weekend.
“Coming out on opening day in Nanaimo with your fans behind you, there’s nothing better, really,” Diewert said.
The Pirates will debut new uniforms that day, “new unis that are pretty shocking, but the kids love them, they asked for them…” Doug Rogers said. “So we’ll see what they look like.”
Sunday’s games are at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Serauxmen Stadium. Admission is $5 for the doubleheader. For more schedule information, please visit www.bcpbl.com.