Strange days for VIBI on road trip

The road trip didn’t produce a lot of wins, but it sure went a long way as far as team building.

Nanaimo’s VIBI Mariners won one of four games against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack this past weekend in Kamloops. Vancouver Island Baseball Institute lost 8-0 and 14-13 on Saturday, won 13-0 the next morning, then ended with a 3-0 loss.

The M’s were ready to go for the first inning of the first game, as Blake Robson singled and cleanup hitter Jordan Romine just missed a home run, smacking a ball off the wall for a double.

“We were flying. Blake had a great at bat, everybody had a good at bat,” said Jordan Blundell, VIBI manager. “We crush a ball that almost was a home run and should’ve scored a run.”

But Robson crashed into an umpire on the basepaths.

“I’m watching this and I’m like, ‘Come one, come on,’” Blundell said. “Blake is worried about the umpire. He’s like, ‘Are you OK?’”

So the M’s missed out on the early lead against their rivals, and Blundell tried to rally his players back at the dugout.

“There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, boys,” the manager said. “We all know this kind of stuff happens when we come up here.”

The opener stayed scoreless until the sixth inning, when TRU broke the game open. Taylor MacDonell ended up getting tagged with the loss, giving up four hits and two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings while striking out seven. Robson had three hits and Romine had two doubles.

The next game was a crazy one, as the M’s held the lead four times but couldn’t hold on. TRU finally pushed the winning run home in the 12th inning, past midnight, after the teams had combined for 30 hits, 27 runs and 13 errors. Jon Przybyl pitched seven relief innings for the loss, striking out 10 batters and giving up two earned runs. Aaron Tyacke had four hits and four RBI, Robson and Thomas Bidzinski each had a single and a triple and Evan Olsen had a triple to go with three bases on balls.

The next morning VIBI ace Adam Paulencu took the mound at 9 a.m., in front of a handful of scouts, and proceeded to throw a seven-inning complete-game shutout, allowing only one hit and no walks while striking out nine.

“[He] doesn’t break a sweat, looked like a big league pitcher on the mound, all three pitches for strikes,” Blundell said. “They had no chance to touch him at any point in that game.”

Romine led the offence with two hits and four RBI, while Cody Phipps and Tyacke had three hits apiece.

The series finale was scoreless into the sixth in another one that got away from the M’s. Reiley Grose took the loss on the mound, giving up three hits and three earned runs in 5 2/3.

BASE LINES … The VIBI Mariners play the Calgary Dinos at Serauxmen Stadium on Saturday (April 9) at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com