The 22nd annual Doug Conn baseball tournament is no longer the 10-12 team event it used to be back in the 1990s, but it will draw solid competition when the Victoria Mavericks and the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Muckers open play today at 6 p.m. at Lambrick Park.
The two Island teams will be joined by two American squads — the Washington Miners and Puget Sound White Sox — for the four-team, round-robin event which will then move to playoff action on Sunday and the final on holiday Monday.
“It should be pretty good competition with our all-star team, the college program from Nanaimo, college guys from the Washington Miners and another all-star team from Puget Sound,” said Lance Burrows, president of Victoria Mavericks Baseball, which began play last week.
The now five-team circuit — which includes the recent addition Muckers, Blue Jays, Athletics, Padres and Dodgers — form an all-star team for the Doug Conn tournament and provincial play.
“We’ve got a list of 35 probables,” Burrows said before whittling the group down. “
With the first two weeks of the league starting this was the only time we could get together as a group. It makes it harder for us to compete at provincials because you have guys from Kamloops who are 400 at-bats in going to provincials, and we play against each other all year and don’t get to play as a unit.”
The Mavericks face the Muckers today at 6 p.m., challenge the White Sox on Saturday at 5 p.m. and then the Miners on Sunday at 11 a.m. Playoffs begin Sunday at 2 p.m. with second place versus third place, followed by first pace vs. fourth at 5 p.m.
The championship final goes Monday at noon, with all games played at the Lambrick diamonds.
The Mavericks are expected to include the likes of Sean Murphy, John Margaritis and Duncan Blades.
“Sean Murphy is still around. A lot of the college kids aren’t back yet, but Duncan Blades, John Margaritas — there are some veterans with some younger guys sprinkled in,” said Burrows, who plays for the Jays. “Most of the studs are still down at college, like the Brett Hulls and the Brandon Feldmans, guys who played for the HarbourCats last year. They get back the last week in May.”
League play continued this week and the defending playoff champion A’s mercy-ruled the Padres 16-6 in five innings on Tuesday night as Blades went 4-for-5 at the plate for the A’s, who also feature former Victoria Seal Charlie Strandlund.
The A’s also recently added local Kyle Orr, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Our pitching is still good,” said A’s coach and second baseman Jer Campbell, who lost Adam Cessford but added Orr, who is expected to pitch some. Orr was designated hitter on Tuesday and was plunked three times by Padres’ pitchers.
“We expect to win a title again. Last year, we were second in league play [to the Padres] but won the playoffs. We’d like to win both this year,” said Campbell, whose team was 2-1 after Tuesday’s win.