by Jonathan Hodgson
March 23, 2014 (ISN) – Vancouver Island Baseball Institute (VIBI) began their Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) schedule this weekend in Kamloops, BC, with a pair of games against Thompson Rivers University on Friday, before Saturday snow forced the postponement of a doubleheader with Prairie Baseball Academy.
VIBI started fast in the season opener against TRU, scoring two runs in the top of the first to immediately grab the lead. Steve McKinnon (Fresh., Duncan, BC) and Connor Merilees (Jr., North Vancouver, BC) would collect base hits, setting the stage for Gobind Sall (Fresh., Duncan, BC) to open the scoring with an RBI double.
Senior right-hander Connor Russell (Victoria, BC) took the mound for the start and was in midseason form.
Russell’s 2-0 lead would stand until TRU tied the game with two of their own in the bottom of the third, but VIBI would quickly take the lead back in the top of the fourth inning, when Merilees scored his second run of the game on a double from Tyson Dyck (Soph., Wymark, SK).
Russell was in command most of the day, limiting TRU to just two runs on two hits, leading 3-2 through 5.
In the bottom of the sixth however, TRU would count three hits, including the decisive blast, a 2-run homerun off the bat of Cam Strachan (Sr., Trail, BC) that gave TRU their first lead of the day 4-3, which would hold up as the final.
For VIBI in the game, left fielder Connor Merilees and first baseman Tyson Dyck were each 2 for 3, Merilees scoring 2 runs, and Dyck driving in 1.
Connor Russell (0-1) was handed the loss, allowing 4 earned runs on 5 hits in 6 innings, recording 6 strikeouts against 1 walk.
Alex Reid (Jr., Kamloops, BC) earned the win for TRU, allowing 3 runs, 1 earned, on 8 hits over 7 innings, with 5 strikeouts while not walking a batter.
Game two of the doubleheader was another close contest in the early innings, before TRU would pull away late.
With the VIBI offense being held scoreless in the early innings, right-handed starter Austin Penner (Soph., Sherwood Park, AB) did his best to keep his team in it, allowing just a first inning run, as the score sat 1-0 TRU after four innings.
Unfortunately after a strong four innings, Penner was unable to navigate through the fifth, departing the game giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits with 1 strikeout in 4.1 innings and trailing 3-0.
Tyson Dyck drove in Connor Merilees in the top of the sixth to get VIBI on the board, but TRU quickly struck back in the bottom of the inning, using a 3-run bottom of the sixth to open a 6-1 lead.
TRU would walk away with it from then on, posting another run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to take it, 9-2.
The only other scoring for VIBI was Gobind Sall driving in Cody Pendergast (Sr., Calgary, AB) in the top of the seventh.
Sall was 2 for 3 with an RBI in the game, walking twice, while Steve McKinnon was 4 for 5.
Austin Penner (0-1) took the loss for VIBI.
Frank Fisico (1-0) earned the win for TRU, allowing 1 run on 6 hits and a walk in 5.1 innings, striking out 2.
VIBI had a doubleheader scheduled against Prairie Baseball Academy on Saturday that was unable to be played due to inclement weather. Game 1 of the doubleheader was 2-0 for VIBI after three innings before snow halted play. That game will be resumed, and the second game played when VIBI visits PBA on April 26-27.
VIBI now opens their home schedule next weekend, March 29th and 30th in Nanaimo. Opening Weekend at Serauxmen Stadium has TRU in Nanaimo for a 4-game series, a 2:00 PM doubleheader on Saturday, March 29th, and an 11 AM doubleheader on Sunday, March 30th.
Fans are invited to join us for Opeing Weekend and get your first look at this year’s team. Opening Day on March 29th will be followed by NMBA Minor Baseball Day on Sunday, March 30th. All players and teams in the Nanaimo Minor Baseball Association are invited to come out and get a look at baseball at the next level.
Complete details will be released shortly.