Story by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 28, 2013, Abbotsford, BC (ISN) – A two-out, two-strike, two-RBI, bases loaded single in the bottom of the final inning by Vinny Martin gave the Victoria Eagles a dramatic, walk-off, 3-2 win over the Nanaimo Pirates in the BC Premier Baseball League Championship final Sunday afternoon at Delair Park in Abbotsford.
The win is the first ever league championship for the Eagles organization and comes in just their 4th season in the league. Eagles GM Gautam Srivistava summed it up nicely, “This was a storybook finish to an amazing run. The guys never gave up.”
This was so true, especially in this game, as the Eagles were facing a Pirates squad who were on a high after defeating Abbotsford earlier in the day 4-1 to advance to the final, and were doing so with rookie pitcher Ethan Skuija on the hill, as veteran hurlers Kurt Horne, Riley Edmonds and Brett Hull were not available, as they all pitched extensively earlier in the tournament.
Photo Courtesy Martin Winstanley / Victoria Eagles
The Eagles not need have worried however, as the composed Skuija simply went out and pitched perhaps the best game of his young career, holding Nanaimo to just three hits and two runs – one in the first and another in the fifth (both of which were unearned) – over his six innings of work.
However Nanaimo’s Devon Geary was also throwing well and had held the Eagles to just a single hit by tony Ebbs-Canavan in the 5th and a single run through nearly full six innings of work, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead heading into the 7th and final inning.
The Eagles then went to closer Brandon Feldman on the mound and while he gave up a single and a walk, he was able to use an inning-ending double play to get out of trouble and send the Eagles to the plate just one run down.
Cue the dramatics.
With Nanaimo’s Luke Skingle now on the mound, things started out innocently enough for the Eagles when Ty Jocko would go down swinging. Mitch Hawkins would then single, but then be forced out on a fielder’s choice by Zane Takhar to put the Eagles one out away from a loss with the tying run 270 feet away at first base, but with the top of the order coming to the plate.
And as befits a team that has relied on contributions from every player up and down the line-up all season, they delivered. Ben Goertzen and Kyle Murai would notch back-to-back singles to load the bases for the number three hitter and UBC bound Martin.
Martin would watch a strike go by and then foul a second off before launching the third pitch he saw for a single that scored Takhar and Goertzen with the winning run and started the Eagles walk-off celebration.
Victoria Manager Anthony Pluta, who joined the Eagles at the helm this season, was ecstatic, “I started my pro career with a championship and I ended my pro career with a championship. Now I’ve started my Eagles career with a championship. This one is the sweetest so far!”
The RBIs were Martin’s second and third of the game (his sacrifice fly plated the Eagles first run in the 6th inning) and earned him Game MVP honors. Brandon Feldman, who finished the playoffs with a .429 average was named the tournament best hitter and Riley Edmonds, with his 1-0 shut-out win on Saturday, was named top pitcher.
Congratulations to the Victoria Eagles organization for winning their first BCPBL championship in just their 4th season in the league!