VIBI peaking for nationals

Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Baseball Institute is playing its best ball of the season at the right time.

The VIBI Mariners didn’t have the kind of regular season they wanted, but that will all be forgotten now.

Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Baseball Institute is playing its best ball of the season at the right time, as the national championship tournament starts tomorrow (May 9) in Kamloops.

VIBI ended the Canadian College Baseball Conference schedule last weekend in Kelowna with three out of four wins against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack and the Okanagan Coyotes.

“The timing of it fits what our plans are for goals of the season,” said Jordan Blundell, VIBI manager. “Everything we’ve been working hard towards kind of happened all in one weekend and we were able to do some of the small things that we maybe weren’t as good at doing earlier in the season.”

VIBI defeated TRU 11-2 in Saturday’s early game, then lost 7-1 to Okie in the late game. On Sunday the M’s edged the Coyotes 2-1 and beat the Pack 3-1.

Not only did the M’s have winning results on the field, but they also got a chance to use their pitchers in the right sort of situations to set up their rotation for nationals.

Connor Russell will get the start Thursday against the WolfPark after earning a win against them last Saturday and a save against them on Sunday.

Those results could be useful confidence builders for VIBI (9-19) against TRU (20-8).

“It’s good timing, because we’re heading into a situation where we don’t have games to give anymore,” Blundell said.

As the regular season ends and nationals begin, those win-loss records revert to 0-0 for every team, anyway. The M’s, who have played in three straight national finals, have as much of a shot as any of the other four teams these next four days.

“If we do things fundamentally right, we’re going to have a chance at success,” said the manager.

BASE LINES … In Russell’s victory last weekend he allowed one run over six innings, striking out seven. Darren Kolk led the offence, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Cody Andreychuck and Connor Merilees both singled and doubled in that game and Tim Scarr had three RBIs. In the 2-1 win, Cody Chartrand got the ‘W’ on the mound, throwing four shutout innings. Kolk struck out eight over four innings in that one and Jeremy Harasymchuk paced the offence, going 2-for-3. In the weekend finale, Jackson McCuaig was 2-for-3 and Luke Hawkins was the winning pitcher.