HYDE CREEK — Rod Romas missed almost all of last year’s baseball season after suffering a devastating leg injury.
He promptly made up for the lost time in Sunday’s North Vancouver Island Baseball League season opener at the local ballpark.
Romas drove in five runs and picked up the victory on the mound as the Port Hardy Cubs kicked off the 2011 season with an 8-4 win over the Port McNeill Rangers.
He laced a two-run double in the Cubs’ four-run first inning, drew a bases-loaded walk in the second, added an RBI single in the fourth and chased home the team’s final run when his sharp one-hopper was misplayed for an error in the sixth.
He even rumbled into second with a stolen base in his last trip on the basepaths.
“I haven’t done anything (to get in shape),” said Romas, who allowed just two unearned runs while striking out three in three innings. “I ran from my couch to my fridge a few times.”
Early last season, Romas made a hard slide into third base during a game and his left ankle basically exploded. He suffered a dislocated ankle, dislocated heel, a spiral fracture of his fibula and torn ligaments.
He still has a 10-inch plate holding everything together and a long scar resulting from the surgery that followed the injury.
“It didn’t feel too bad,” he said after pitching and playing both shortstop and catcher in Sunday’s win. “When I rounded third in the first inning I definitely felt it. But it’s not bad.”
Jason Hodson went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs for the Cubs, Curtis Martyn was 3-for-5 with three runs and an RBI, and Chris Lamothe drew five walks and scored three times as a succession of Rangers hurlers pitched around him.
Romas started on the hill for the Cubs and was followed by Dave Stewart, Martyn and Lamothe as the team went easy on its arms in the season opener. Conditions were cool and cloudy, but the rains that plagued the opener the past two seasons never fell on this one.
After jumping to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning, the Cubs gave two runs back with some uncharacteristically sloppy defence. Four errors contributed to the runs, which the Rangers managed on just one hit.
After that, though, the Cubs’ defence was solid and turned three double plays. Third baseman Chris Ranger started two of the twin killings, one erasing a runner at the plate as the Rangers threatened with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, and the other ending the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Jordan Altmiks had two hits for the Rangers. Greg Johnson was 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI, Chris Tomasi went 1-for-2 with a run and Karl Jones was 1-for-3 and scored once. Harold Hosken took the loss.
The season resumes Saturday when the defending league champion Hyde Creek Hillbillies host Port McNeill at 5 p.m.