The VIBI Mariners are digging in their cleats as baseball season heats up.
Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Baseball Institute club is looking forward to its first home games of the regular season this Saturday (April 11) and Sunday.
VIBI may be on the upswing now in Canadian College Baseball Conference play, winning three out of four games on a road trip to Kelowna this past weekend.
One things the Mariners are always working at is consistency. They’ve had some tough days at the ballpark, but other days, they’ve broken through.
“That was a big key for us, to play relaxed and do what we’re capable of and we’re finally starting to see that as a group,” said Connor Merilees, M’s outfielder, at practice last week.
At the plate, VIBI batters are swinging at better pitches, said Merilees, and guys are figuring out what works best for them individually.
“Facing the kinds of arms we’ve faced is a good way to help us wake up and get back on the right track and refocus and find a way to battle those guys and get to the bullpen earlier,” said Nick Salahub, assistant coach.
On the mound, he’s looking for his pitchers to have an even keel. Some starts a pitcher will be untouchable, and other starts he can’t get an out, said Salahub, and it’s all those other starts in between those extremes that make or break a pitcher’s season.
One trait the Mariners have shown the coaching staff is work ethic.
“Sometimes they work too hard to a flaw,” said Salahub. “Sometimes they listen to coaching just a bit too much and not try and find a way to win, they try and find a way to do what coach tells them to do.”
But hard work pays off, and the M’s are optimistic about the balance of the season.
“I think that up until now it’s just been growing pains, trying to get the right mindset at all times to try and help us perform as best we can,” Merilees said. “And I think we’re really starting to see a turn.”
Mariners score boatloads of runs
The M’s edged the Calgary Dinos 8-7 on Saturday to start this past weekend’s road trip, then beat the Okanagan Coyotes 10-6. On Sunday, VIBI blew out Calgary 14-4 and finished with a 9-7 loss to Okie.
In the first game, Riley Moskaluk was the winning pitcher after throwing 2 1/3 no-hit innings. Steve McKinnon was 2-for-3.
Kenton Schroter earned the win against the Coyotes, striking out seven over seven innings. McKinnon was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Merilees had two RBIs as well and Andrew Evernden was 2-for-4 and scored three runs.
In the blowout, Merilees was 4-for-4 with three RBIs, Bryce Crosbie was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Gobind Sall and Aidan Goodall were also 2-for-4. Tyler Ulrich struck out eight in a complete-game win.
In the loss, Merilees was 2-for-4 and Tyson Dyck had two doubles and two RBIs.
GAME ON … The Mariners host a four-game series against the Coyotes on Saturday and Sunday at Serauxmen Stadium. Saturday’s games are at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Sunday’s game times are 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Admission is free.