Thunderbirds set for first home series of 2015 season


Vancouver, BC – The University of British Columbia’s baseball team is set to host its first conference weekend series this spring against the visiting College of Idaho Coyotes. Currently the ‘Birds are ranked 20th in the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll with an overall record of 21-6 while the Yotes are 18-9 overall.
“I’m excited for us to play them,” UBC head coach Terry McKaig said. “They’re a good team this year and I have a feeling they’ll be battling us for the conference title. They’re just a really competitive squad, so we’re looking forward to playing our rivals in the conference in a matchup that certainly won’t lack in intensity.”
The last time the two teams met was at the Treasure Valley Collegiate Baseball Icebreaker in Caldwell, Idaho, back in the first week of February, where the Thunderbirds lost 11-5. UBC rallied late in the seventh but two home runs from the Yotes secured the score.
UBC extended their winning streak to five games last weekend sweeping the Simpson Red Hawks in Redding, Calif., boasting a 4-0 start to their conference record. They defeated their hosts 8-4 and 7-1 on Saturday, and again 4-0 and 8-1 on Sunday. Part of the win came from solid pitching, and another part came from an offensive surge that set a University record. The Thunderbirds head into this weekend having won 12 of its last 13 games.
UBC Muscle Mlk Athlete of the Week Jerod Bartnik (Surrey, B.C.) led the charge, connecting for four homeruns and driving in six RBI over the series. The right fielder’s first was part of a mounting comeback in Game 1 that gave rise to a record setting feat featuring three consecutive home runs from Bartnik, Cam Firth, and Bruce Yari. But Bartnik didn’t stop there; he continued to give the team the zeal to complete the sweep throughout the series, hitting two more homeruns in Game 4 in back-to-back at bats.
The Coyotes come to town with a conference record of 2-2 after splitting their opening conference home series against Corban University, winning 8-7 and 4-3, and losing 5-2 and 9-6. Their first lost (Game 2) snapped a seven-game winning streak.
Integral to winning this weekend is sticking with what UBC has always done well.
“I think just starting on the mound,” McKaig said. “Pitching is always key. We’ve been fortunate to have a pretty dominate pitching staff at the University for quite some time. Our top six on the mound—our four starters and two relievers—are really solid. They give our offense a lot of time to come around and score runs and battle.”
Offensively, runs are coming from various spots in the roster, but Yari and Bartnik have certainly set the tone.
Per usual, look for starting pitcher Conor Lillis-White on the mound to open up the weekend. The double header for Saturday starts at 1 p.m., following by another pair of games Sunday morning  beinning at 11 a.m. All games will be played at Thunderbird Park.