VIBI Mariners come close to championship

Nanaimo’s VIBI Mariners lost 5-3 to the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs on Sunday in Lethbridge in the CCBC final.

The VIBI Mariners had their chance in the ninth inning at a championship, but they couldn’t quite capture it.

Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Baseball Institute lost 5-3 to the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs on Sunday afternoon in Lethbridge in the Canadian College Baseball Conference final.

VIBI, trailing 5-2 going into the top of the ninth, loaded the bases with nobody out. They could only plate one of those baserunners, though, and PBA celebrated its fifth-straight national title.

“I’m proud of the guys,” said Jordan Blundell, VIBI manager. “They won some close games and executed when we needed to and we got some big hits when we needed to and made some big plays defensively. They put it all together, we just came up a little bit short.”

The M’s were shut out by PBA in the tournament opener but won their next four, including the semifinal Sunday morning, 4-3 over the Okanagan Coyotes.

Nanaimo’s Kenton Schroter was the winning pitcher in the semi, throwing eight innings, giving up one earned run and striking out 11. Bryce Crosbie had two hits and three RBIs.

In the final, Austin Penner suffered the loss on the mound. Chad Schultz singled and doubled and Tyson Dyck also had two hits.

Blundell said the focus was to get to that final, knowing that once there, anything could happen.

“It sucks losing but it is part of life and it’s something you can learn from and hopefully guys are able to take something from it,” the manager said.

“You hope that the guys that are younger that maybe didn’t get as much opportunity to play at the end of the year get a taste of what it is and how important it is to our program that we play good baseball at the end of the year and how important it is to give it your all from Day 1 in September.”

BASE LINES … Connor Merilees was selected a first-team conference all-star and Gobind Sall, Schultz, Dick, Schroter and Andrew Evernden were second-team all-stars. The VIBI pitching staff also won an award for striking out the most opposing batters during the 2015 season.