March 29th, 2017
VIBI Mariners become VIU Mariners
Nanaimo News Bulletin
There will be something a little different about the Mariners baseball team when it takes the field this weekend (March 25-26).
The Mariners will play for themselves, for their team, for their city and their Island, the way they always have. And now, more than ever before, they’ll play for their school, too.
The Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners have become the Vancouver Island University Mariners. They’re still a club team, not a fully funded program, but the bond has strengthened.
“It’ll be fun for the guys, fun to represent the university on the field,” said Nick Salahub, Mariners assistant coach. “[It’s] something that we’ve sort of done indirectly in the past, but the university’s stepped up for us this past year and is helping us out a little bit… I think it’s beneficial for us and for the university, so hopefully that’s something we can continue to grow and a relationship we can foster in a successful manner.”
Tate Yuzda, Mariners first baseman and outfielder, said “it’s a huge honour” to be representing the school now and hopes it will help raise the profile of the program to try to get more students to games.
“We feel more a part of the school right now and it feels great,” he said. “I’m looking [forward to] some good things coming up for this program.”
There are indications that the baseball team will be highly competitive this season under their new branding.
Though baseball season is just starting in Nanaimo, the Mariners have been playing games for more than a month already with spring training tours through Arizona and California and exhibition games in Parksville the last two weekends.
Salahub said there’s a lot of roster turnover as always with a university-level ball club, but said a lot of core guys from last year return and there are newcomers who will step right in to key roles.
“We’ve got a good lineup,” said Yuzda. “I think we really excel with the bats and our pitching staff is coming along, so I’m liking what I’m seeing so far.”
Ryan Thrasher, who comes to the VIU club from Alabama A&M of the NCAA’s Div. 1, said Mariners hitters have been making good contact.
“We’ve been hitting a lot of line drives, and that’s been making the ball go out of the ballpark,” he said.
Brodan Bydeweg, VIU shortstop, said the batting order is looking strong, one through nine.
“A lot of guys are having good at-bats and then we get the clutch hit here and there, and a lot of back-to-back hits, as well,” he said.
As for pitching, Yuzda said with the way guys are improving, he expects it to be a strength area come playoff time. Salahub said the only thing the pitching staff is short on is experience.
“That means we’ve got some freshmen that are going to step up into some roles and deliver the wins for us, hopefully,” he said. “And we should be able to put a charge into the baseball a little bit to make it a little bit easier for them.”
Next home games this SundayApril 2nd 1:30and 4pm and Monday, April 3rd 11am and 1:30pm (weather permitting) , versus Okanagan College Coyotes.