Jacob and Eli Ortman love baseball. It isn’t a sport they have centred their entire life around, but the last several years for sure have definitely been very baseball-centric for the west central family.
“It kinda really only started a couple of years ago. We didn’t really know what we wanted to do but we started to take (baseball) really seriously,” explained Jacob who recalls the brothers getting more into the sport around bantam age, “Everybody was interested in it, and with BLE we had a longer season that just Kindersley baseball so it worked out really well for us.”
BLE, or Big League Experience, is one of the main reasons the Ortman twins decided to pursue baseball after graduation. Eli helped explain some of the other baseball trips the brothers have taken to places like Arizona and Las Vegas to get some extra time in, but Jacob is who shared the set of eyes at the BC based camp that they contacted to see if there was a spot open on his team.
“The head coach of Nanaimo goes every year, and we played on a Vegas travel team with them.” said Jacob, “This year we emailed him basically saying ‘we want to play with you, can we get a tryout?’ and he said basically the way we performed we wouldn’t worry about one and that we could go right down and play with them.”
They knew they would be headed to BC even during the end of their final season here in Saskatchewan. Kindersley hosted provincials this year, and the twins were each key pieces over the successful weekend that saw both host teams win their respective tiers of provincials.
Now property of the VIU Mariners, Jacob and Eli set off for the island in late August, and already have some action logged as we sit nearly a month later. Eli has 2 at-bats for the team while Jacob only has one, with neither brother recording a hit. Both are listed as pitchers and infielders, though Jacob carries more potential for a career on the mound and is also the families resident lefty.
Both brothers have a long list of help they can thank for getting to this point. The boys are well known to stick around for extra practice during the spring and summer months, and they are excited to try and show out in response for everything their supports have done for them.
“It’s just been nice to see a group of people really encouraging us to take advantage of the situation we are in,” said Eli.
Both Jacob and Eli know the big move has been a lot easier having their brother around, something that also translates to positives on the field. Despite the fact that they are twins, Jacob feels that just playing together for so long has translated into a sixth sense between the two when on the diamond.
“You know since mosquito I used to be a catcher, and Jacob would pitch,” explained Eli on the dynamic, “I think having that chemistry is really important, and it kind of moulded into being a first basemen and a second basemen.”
Their youngest brother Benjamin is another part of the All-Ortman-Infield, again proving baseball is a family affair for the newest CCBC athletes.
Both of their goals for this season are to just adjust to the immense change in speed they have already likely noticed, and progress on personal skills and benchmarks they came into the season wanting to improve. They certainly have to earn their playing time, and the brothers understand that.
“As far as first year goes my coach says he can get me there, but I have to earn my playing time,” said Eli.
“We have faced some high level competition, but definitely nothing close to university ball,” said Jacob, “I think first year is definitely going to just be development, and then shoot for some playing time here and there is what I would like to do.”
At the end of the day, the Ortman twins know their relationship with the coach is what gave them the opportunity at VIU. That isn’t going to stop them from channeling the same work ethic they brought to the various out of season camps, and long hours in the gym that got them to this point. Specifically speaking for Jacob, he wants to be the man on the mound, but I’m sure he would settle with being one half of a terrific twin duo out in Nanaimo.