Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners pitcher Connor Russell throws a strike during the fourth inning of a pre-season game against the Okanagan Coyotes last Thursday afternoon at Serauxmen Stadium.

Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners pitcher Connor Russell throws a strike during the fourth inning of a pre-season game against the Okanagan Coyotes last Thursday afternoon at Serauxmen Stadium.

VIBI sorts things out for spring

The M’s travel to Kamloops this week for the start of the Canadian College Baseball Conference schedule.

Spring training took the VIBI Mariners around the Pacific Northwest. They played tough U.S. college teams. They played four games in one day. They played one night until almost dawn.

“They’ve battled,” said Jordan Blundell, Vancouver Island Baseball Institute manager. “They’re a tough group and that’s what we are here, we’re a tough group on the Island.”

So the Mariners should be ready for whatever the regular season is about to bring. The M’s travel to Kamloops this week for the start of the Canadian College Baseball Conference schedule, facing the host Thompson Rivers University WolfPack on Friday (March 21) and then the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs on Saturday.

The baseball fundamentals are still coming around at this time of year, but some facets of the game seem to be coming along.

“Part of what the spring is about is getting some guys on the field that are fighting for the last job or two, to try to get playing time and see where they stack up against themselves and their teammates,” Blundell said.

One area the Mariners feel they’ve improved this season is defensively.

“You’ll make an amazing play here and there, but if we can take care of the baseball and make the plays we’re supposed to, that will help everything,” the manager said.

VIBI ace Connor Russell, a 6-foot-4 righty, is back to lead a workmanlike pitching staff.

“The core starting four in our rotation will take us a long way,” Russell said. “We have four good arms that we’re hoping to run out there every weekend and give us a chance to win.”

He said pitchers have had a little trouble finding the zone this spring, but he thinks that will come.

“Once we establish first-pitch strike and are throwing strikes throughout the game we’re going to be a lot more effective,” Russell said.

As for the offence, Blundell said his hitters still show some inconsistency but that’s understandable at this time of year as coaches try to get lots of different guys at-bats.

“It’s tough to be consistent with new guys hitting in front and behind you,” the manager said. “You find a way to give them the best chance to work together.”

Dallas Monk, VIBI infielder, said he thinks the offence is coming along pretty well.

“A lot of hard hit balls,” he said. “We’re hitting balls harder earlier than we have, so that’s a really good sign.”

The Mariners perennially put themselves in contention for a conference championship and look forward to starting to work toward that goal again in 2014.

“We’ve played fairly good baseball for the most part and we’re excited to move forward with this group,” Blundell said.

GAME ON … The VIBI Mariners begin the Canadian College Baseball Conference season this Friday (March 21) and Saturday with games against Thompson Rivers University and Prairie Baseball Academy in Kamloops … VIBI’s home opener is March 29, when the TRU WolfPack visits Serauxmen Stadium for games at noon and 2:30 p.m.

Just Posted

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Tilray announces new line of products offering more inexpensive choices for medical cannabis users. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo-based Tilray launches new medical cannabis product line

Symbios brand products offered at ‘better price point’ for medical cannabis products

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to repair sewage pipe in the Hammond Bay Road area, which was corroded by gas. (Black Press file)
Corroded sewer pipe along Nanaimo’s Hammond Bay Road will cost $5.5 million to fix

Pipe replacement and reinforcement part of $6.9-million infrastructure project

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Most Read