Campbell River Minor Baseball returned to league play on Saturday, in a leap towards pre-pandemic conditions for players and fans alike.
The 18UAAA North Island Cubs seemed ready to go, as they beat the Cowichan Valley Mustangs 18-4 over five innings in the second game of a doubleheader match held at Nunns Creek Park on June 19.
“It’s real good to be back at the park,” said assistant coach Dan Dobe, prior to the game. “We’re all excited — it’s been a long time.”
The return to live baseball came as a relief to players.
“It was hard for a little bit there, just practicing with no games coming up,” said Braydon Penn, who plays third base and shortstop. “Now that we’re playing again, it’s good to get that level of competition back and the competitiveness that goes with it.”
Playing another team is “so much better,” said Zach Dobie, who plays first base. “Facing our own team and inter-sport games are fun, but the pitching is way different.”
After the game, Penn said the first few innings were a struggle, but then “everybody hit and everybody ran and stole bases,” leading to the team’s convincing win.
Members of the team are now looking forward to playing the rest of the 24 to 30 game season — which may include travelling to play elsewhere in the province.
“We’re hoping to get off the island and play some faraway teams — and maybe staying in a hotel,” said Penn.
The game featured the return of umpires behind the plate, who last year were positioned behind the mound for distancing. Not only were the players “pumped” to play another team, but spectators — limited to 50 per field — are also allowed once again.
“It’s nice for the parents to be able to stick around and watch their kids,” said Dobe.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Jo Dumont, whose son Wyatt plays pitcher, outfield and catcher. “It’s pretty cool to see them back at it.”