If it wasn’t for the reorganization of the local school system, the L.V. Rogers baseball team might not even be a team at all this season.
Three years ago when the local high school welcomed Grade 9 for the first time, it was a major shift in the system. Trafalgar added Grade 6 and LVR became a four-grade school.
This season the success of the Bombers baseball squad is reaping the rewards of that shift.
“We’re real young,” says Bombers’ coach Kyle Mace. “We don’t have any Grade 12s, so the future looks really good.”
Though there is a good core of veteran high school players on the Bombers, this year’s line-up is littered with promising Grade 9s.
The future — and the present — was on display on Friday night at Queen Elizabeth Park. The Bombers hosted their annual tournament and invited Kimberley, Trail and Grand Forks to take part.
On Friday night it was a match-up against Trail.
“The Grade 9s and 10s really stepped up in that game,” Mace says of his team’s win.
The Bombers threw a pair of Grade 9s on the mound on Friday. Lefty Austin Tambellini recorded the win and fellow lefty Braeden Zarikioff came in for the save.
Though the Bombers were impressive in the weekend opener, Mace says the same could not be said for Saturday where they lost to both Kimberley and Grand Forks.
“Overall the weekend went well,” says Mace. “It was frustrating to see the Saturday games because there were two different LVR teams. Had we played the way we played on Friday, we would have won both. But we didn’t show up on Saturday.”
This year’s Bombers look a little different in the dugout too. Local baseball pillar Ron Mace is currently in Australia on a teacher exchange. While the senior Mace is downunder, he has left his two sons — Kyle and Josh — to care for his high school program.
Both Mace brothers helped their dad coach the Bombers last year. Both are also accomplished players having each spent four years on college diamonds in the United States.
“It’s great to coach the kids and give back,” says Kyle. “Somebody had to do it for me and this is a good way to contribute the community.”
Still Kyle, 29, and Josh, 27, are looking forward to their father’s return next season.
“It’s a lot of work and I want him back,” Mace says with a laugh.
Though the Bombers’ record to date shows more losses than wins, the team is enjoying a season that indicates the sport is on an upswing in Nelson. With a healthy roster of 18 players, the numbers are growing every year.
“The interest in baseball at the high school level has actually picked up,” says Kyle. “We have a lot of kids who have never played before and they are doing really well.”
He credits his father’s hard work and solid grooming through the younger levels in Nelson District Baseball for the increase.
“Some kids might think it’s boring, but once they do play then they see the excitement,” Kyle says of high school baseball.
The Bombers next action is a trip to Grand Forks on May 1. After a couple of road tournaments, the team returns to Nelson on May 15 for its last action of the season when they take on Grand Forks in a double header at Queen E. Game time for those games is 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.