June 4, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Victoria Mariners’ pinch runner Lucas Piechnik scampered home on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Mariners a walk-off 2-1 win over the Victoria Eagles in BC Premier League action Wednesday night at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
The Mariners Colton Wood would show why he is one of the best pitchers in the BCPBL, throwing a complete game, 11 strikeout performance at the Victoria Eagles on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win made a complete game winner of Mariner’s ace Colton Wood, who would go the distance in the game, scattering five Eagles hits, walking just one and striking out 11.
The win also capped an emotional evening for the Mariners, as it followed a pre-game ceremony that honoured their teammate Zack Downey, who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. Downey’s girlfriend Emily Aspden was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and when they took the field, Mariners players gathered around a circled #6 chalked on the infield grass to pay their respects.
Emily Aspden, girlfriend of fallen Mariner Zack Downey, throws out the first pitch prior to the start of the Eagles and Mariners game Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The crowd of 650 that was on hand were also asked to observe a moment of silence by Victoria HarbourCats General Manager Jim Swanson and the Eagles players also paid respect to Zack, donning toques over their caps with “Zack” and the number 6 embroidered on them.
The Victoria Mariners starters gather around a #6 chalked on the infield grass as a tribute to the Mariners Zack Downey who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The game was played at Royal Athletic Park to serve as a “test run” of sorts for the Victoria HarbourCats game day staff and if the kind of ball that was played by the Eagles and Mariners is any indication of the kind of ball the HarbourCats will play this season, fans will be in for a treat.
Victoria Eagles starter Ethan Skuija, limited to just three innings of work as he is headed to a tryout camp this weekend, had a strong outing for the Eagles, giving up 1 run on 2 hits while striking out five Mariner batters (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Wood, who has been playing with the Canadian National Junior Team and who is hoping to garner some interest in the MLB entry draft later this week, showed everyone why that is the case, coming out strong and striking out two of the first three batters he faced in a 1-2-3 first inning and doing the same in inning two.
Not to be outdone, Eagles ace Ethan Skuija did the same, striking out the first two batters he faced in a scoreless first and striking out the side in the bottom of the second.
Eagles second baseman Alex Hendra-Brown makes the flip to shortstop Zane Takhar to get the inning-ending out at second (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In the top of the third, the Eagles would put the first run of the game on the board. With two outs, Ben Goertzen would single, and then Zane Takhar would be hit by a pitch. Wood would then try a pick off to first that would get by first baseman Mitch Bryan, allowing Goertzen to come around and score and Takhar to move to third. That would be as far as he would go however as Wood would strike out Eagle’s slugger Sam Stevenson to end the inning.
Eagles reliever Martin Eckard would throw 3 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just a single Mariners hit, while striking out 1 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Mariners would get that run back right away in the bottom of the inning in classic “small ball” fashion. Mitch Bryan would lead-off with a single and then move to second on a bunt by Mike Varley. On the play, a throwing error by Stevenson allowed Bryan to move to third, while Varley was tagged out trying to go to second. A sacrifice fly by Jesse Mycock then scored Bryan to tie the game before Chris Fougner flew out to end the inning.
The 1-1 score would hole through to the seventh inning as Wood, and Eagle reliever Martin Eckard, who came in to start the fourth for the Eagles, continued to be efficient and use their defence to great effect. In particular, the Mariners defence turned double-plays in both the fifth and sixth innings to get themselves out of trouble.
Victoria Mariners second baseman Mike Varley lands after making a perfect throw to first to complete a key 6th inning double-play Wednesday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In the bottom of the seventh, the Eagles sent reliever Adam Bontkes to the mound and he started well, getting Evan Willow to fly out to right. Matthew Wellington would then follow with a hard shot to third that was mishandled by the Eagles Kobe Morris, allowing Wellington to reach safely. Tanner Hess would follow with a single and after Nick Seginowich flied out to centre, Mitch Bryan drew a walk to set the stage for Mike Varley.
Varley worked the count to 2-1 and the next pitch then got away from Eagles catcher Stevenson, allowing Piechnik (who had come in to pinch run for Wellington at second base) to cross the plate with the winning run.
Upon crossing the plate, the Mariners mobbed and piled on Piechnik as if they had just won the World Series, a reflection of their reaction to the emotions of the evening and of pulling out an important win over their cross-town rivals in a key league game.
Somewhere deep under this pile of happy Mariners is Lucas Piechnik who scampered home with the winning run in the bottom of the 7th inning against the Eagles on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win moves the Mariners record to 13-5 and keeps them in 3rd place in the BCPBL, 5.5 games back of league leading Langley. The Eagles fall to 12-12 and they sit in 6th.
A few members of the Eagles and the Mariners will be right back in action on Thursday night, as they will join forces to play an exhibition game against the collegiate level Victoria HarbourCats. Game time is 7:11 PM and tickets are available at the gate or by visiting www.harbourcats.com