VIBI one bad inning from victory

The VIBI Mariners were where they wanted to be – back in the national championship game, with their ace on the mound. A repeat was in their grasp. One bad inning was their downfall.

Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Baseball Institute finished as runners-up at the Canadian College Baseball Conference championships this past weekend in Kamloops, losing 8-5 to the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs in Sunday’s final.

VIBI played .500 in the round-robin portion of the tournament, then hammered the Okanagan Coyotes 9-4 Sunday morning in the semis.

“We put ourselves in the best position to win it,” said Jordan Blundell, VIBI manager. “But that’s the way it goes sometimes. You need things to fall in place for you.”

The M’s led 2-1 until the fifth inning, when the Dawgs batted around to score seven runs and build a lead that proved insurmountable.

“We made some errors and had a couple of things go their way and just couldn’t stop the wheels from turning on their offence in that one inning,” the manager said.

Adam Paulencu ended up suffering the loss. He allowed eight runs on four hits over 4 2/3, though only two of those runs were earned. Dallas Monk had two hits for VIBI in the game and Evan Olsen and Aaron Tyacke drove in runs.

In the semis Connor Russell earned the win on the mound. Aaron Witzke had three RBI in that one and Tyacke was 3-for-4 with two RBI.

The Mariners were upset their season didn’t end the right way, but tried to focus on the positive memories.

“It was a good group of kids that kind of put it together at the end and played well together and were good teammates and good ball players,” said Blundell.

BASE LINES … The CCBC announced its first and second all-star teams on the weekend and VIBI had more all-stars than any other team. Olsen, Taylor MacDonell and Blake Robson were first-team all-stars and Paulencu, Witzke, Tyacke, Cody Phipps, Jeremy Harasymchuk and Jordan Romine were selected to the second all-star team. Blundell was chosen Coach of the Year.