Dayton Ring is one of the returnees back with the North Island Cubs this season. File photo

North Island Cubs start strong in second season of baseball

With most players from Campbell River, team will play more home games here

Last season, the North Island Cubs started strong and stayed that way through the season.

Their winning ways continued into the provincials where they fell short of a championship against the North Fraser Nationals, which was no mean feat for the new side.

“It was a great showing for a first-year team,” said coach Hugh Gurney.

In that inaugural 18U AAA baseball campaign, several players were named all-stars. A few even played for Team BC, with two travelling to New York and one to Washington. A number of players also signed letters of intent with colleges and universities.

RELATED STORY: North Island Cubs win three of four in inaugural home opener games

RELATED STORY: North Island Cubs second in B.C.

This time around, the Cubs aim to avoid the sophomore slump, and it’s so far so good. On the April 20 and 21 weekend, they travelled to the Lower Mainland for a pair of doubleheaders and walked away with sweeps over both Cloverdale and Richmond, courtesy of some strong pitching.

On the Saturday, they took on Cloverdale and won the opener 9-7, following that up with a 5-4 win. Dayton Ring threw the first game with closer Brandon McClary sealing the victory. In game two, Jayden Smith earned the win, with McClary again coming in to close.

The following day the Cubs cruised to easy wins against Richmond, taking the first game 11-0 and the second 11-1, each marking a complete game for starting pitchers Jaxon Ackerman and Austin Gurney.

Coach Gurney was pleased with the strong performances of his pitching staff, adding he did not have to lean on any of the other four potential pitchers on the roster to take to the mound over the weekend.

He is confident this year’s line-up will be strong, as many of the players are back from last year’s team, though they’ve added a few new faces.

“We were very fortunate. We only had one player age out from last year,” Gurney said, adding they did lose three others.

One nice change this year is that the Cubs’ home games will actually be at home in Campbell River, where 11 of the 13 players are from. The other two this year come from Oceanside. Last year, the team had a few games here but most were played out of town. Gurney is hoping people will come out to watch at Nunns Creek Park.

“It’s pretty good ball,” he adds.

Many of the kids have been playing alongside each other since they started the sport, so that’s another factor that helps build chemistry.

“It’s kind of nice to see how far they’ve come and what level they’re at now,” he said.

The Cubs have this coming weekend off, but resume play the following weekend. They’ll play on the road against North Shore on May 4 and host their home opener on Sunday, May 5 at Nunns Creek against the Vancouver Island Mariners.

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