Golden Tide baseball era opens Friday at Royal Athletic Park

The Tide is rolling in, mixing books and balls, in the Canadian College Baseball Conference

The Victoria Golden Tide plays its first home game ­Friday at 6 p.m. against Thompson ­Rivers University WolfPack and following up Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Vancouver Island University Mariners, both at Royal Athletic Park.

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Players must be registered full-time at a post-secondary institution, such as UVic or Camosun, in order to play for the Golden Tide. The eight-team CCBC features the Tide, VIU,

Thompson Rivers, ­University of the Fraser Valley, ­UBC-Okanagan, University of Calgary, Edmonton Collegiate Baseball Club and Prairie Baseball Academy of Lethbridge.

The Golden Tide is not affiliated with UVic or Camosun and will operate on a club basis such as the CCBC teams in Edmonton and Lethbridge.

“It’s a new program, so 85 per cent of our players are freshman. We are going to have a great nucleus for the years to come,” said Golden Tide head coach Curtis Pelletier.

That includes the Golden Tide’s star recruit and former Canadian junior national team infielder Brody Alexandre of Swift Current, Sask. Ethan Keates from Calgary is another recruit of note. Island products include Tristan Bolger, Jacob Popadynec and Nick Lee.

The Golden Tide has 48 players on the roster and Pelletier said they will all be used. There will be plenty of opportunity. The team will play more than 40 games from now through late October, which is the exhibition portion of the season, before the 32-game official conference ­season in April and May.

Shoulder season baseball has its own feel in cooler and danker conditions than summer.

“You have to get used to throwing a wet ball. That’s just how it is in fall baseball,” said Pelletier, also assistant coach and director of player development for the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League.

The Golden Tide are affiliated with the HarbourCats and the team has assembled an ­knowledable dugout unit with former Los Angeles Dodgers-signed Kyle Orr the hitting coach, and Ethan Fox, Aaron Witzke, Shawn Loglisci and Ryan Haines other assistant coaches.

“This is a really important level providing close to 50 players an opportunity to play collegiate baseball that they otherwise might not have had,” said Jim Swanson, GM of the HarbourCats.

That’s an opportunity the VIU Mariners, coached by Nick Salahub, have been providing for several years in Nanaimo, including this year signing Canadian national women’s team pitcher Alli Schroder of ­Fruitvale as the first female player in CCBC history.

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