Junior Mariners Last Inning Rally Stuns Junior Eagles

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

May 12, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – A two-out, two-strike, two-RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning from Callum Afcouliotis scored the tying and winning runs and gave the Victoria Junior Mariners an exciting, walk-off, 6-5 win over the visiting Victoria Junior Eagles in BC Junior Premier League action Tuesday night at Henderson Park in Victoria.

Victoria Mariner players Callum Afcouliotis (right) and Caleb Piechnik (left) do the happy dance as they celebrate Afcouliotis’s game winning hit on Tuesday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win capped an improbable comeback for the Mariners, who, trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, looked to be well on their way to their eighth loss of the season against just one win. Instead they found a way to rally for the five runs and steal the win away from the stunned Eagles.

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Junior Eagles pitcher Jacob Potter left the game after six innings with a solid 5-1 lead, only to watch heartbreakingly as the Mariners scored 5 runs in the final inning to steal a 6-5 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Mariners win broke the heart of Eagles starter Jacob Potter, who had pitched a beauty over six full innings, keeping the Mariners to just that lone run on seven scattered hits, before being replaced by Stephen Wade at the start of the seventh. The Mariners win also wasted a solid offensive performance by the Eagles that saw them pound out nine hits off Mariners pitching, including seven off M’s starter Dawson Neale.

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The Eagle’s Nate Postle slides safely into second as Mariners shortstop Caleb Piechnik tries to corral the throw from right field (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Eagles would jump out to their lead in the top of the third inning, when they would score three, thanks in part to a lead-off double from Nate Postle and a two-RBI single from Cam Devlin. The Mariners would respond with one in the bottom of the inning thanks to an RBI single from Zeke Holt that was misplayed by the right fielder, allowing Afcouliotis to score all the way from first.

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A 2-RBI single in the third inning from the Eagles Cam Devlin would help the Eagles jump out to a 3-0 lead (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Eagles would strike again for two more in the top of the sixth when Jesse Simpson would lead-off with a double and come in to score on a single from Ethan Tremblay. Giovanni Piovesan-Walt, who reached on an error, would also score later in the inning to add to the lead and give the Eagles what appeared to be a safe and comfortable four-run margin.

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The Mariners Zeke Holt heads to third base after stroking one of his three hits on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Mariners did knock on the door in both the bottom of the fourth and bottom of the sixth, but could not get a timely hit or any breaks and left runners stranded on second and third in both of those innings.

Their luck would finally change in the seventh against the Eagles, as they would take advantage of a shaky Wade, as well as two crucial Eagle errors to mount their comeback. Wade, who walked the first batter he faced, Ryley Abbott, then induced a textbook double-play ground ball to short by Caleb Piechnik that was booted by Justice Carter.

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The Mariners Chris Niketas slides safely into second ahead of the tag from the Eagles Justice Carter (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The error allowed Abbott and Piechnik to both advance a base and after an out, Abbott would score on a groundout to first to make the score 5-2. Chris Niketas would then walk and steal second and both he and Piechnik would then come home on a clutch double to right field from Cody White making it 5-4.

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The Eagles’ Ethan Tremblay would have a pair of hits and an RBI in the Eagles 6-5 loss Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After another potential game ending ground ball by Dylan Price was booted by Eagles third baseman Piovesan-Walt, Wade would then walk Jon Gale to load the bases and bring up Afcouliotis.

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Despite a vailant effort, Eagles left fielder Nate Postle could not come up with this sinking line drive during the game against the Mariners on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Eagles would then go to reliever Spencer Kearley and after Afcouliotis would foul off a pair of potential third strikes, he launched the next pitch into right-centerfield to score White and Price and bring the Mariners streaming off the bench to celebrate the much needed win.

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Cody White’s clutch 2-RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning would help the Mariners come back for a 6-5 win over the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Mariners comeback made a winner of pitcher Piechnik, who came on in relief of Calvin Wambolt in the sixth inning. The loss was charged to Wade, who was making his first appearance for the Junior Eagles after starting the season with the Premier squad.

On offence, Holt led the Mariners with three hits, with White and Afcouliotis chipping in their two important RBIs each. For the Eagles, Justice Carter and Ethan Tremblay both had two-hit evenings, while Devlin led the RBI parade with his two in the third inning.

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The Mariners Callum Afcouliotis heads to first after hitting his game winning single Tuesday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

While the win does not do much to improve the Junior Mariners position in the BCJPBL standings, where they sit in ninth at 2-7, it certainly did a lot to improve their morale in what has been a tough start to 2015. They will have a chance to improve on that record on Saturday, when they travel to the North Shore to face the second place Junior Twins.

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The Mariners Callum Afcouliotis (left) gets conked in the head by his own helmet (that he had thrown in the air) as he begins the game ending celebration with teammate Caleb Piechnik (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Eagles, now with four of their seven losses coming by just a single run, sit in eighth place at 4-7 and but for a break here and there, they could be battling for the league lead. They will have a chance to rebound from Tuesday’s tough loss when they host the last place Nanaimo Pirates (0-10) at Lambrick Park on Saturday. Game time is 12 Noon.

Watch for more photos from this game by ISN photographer Christian J. Stewart at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/eagles

Follow Christian J. Stewart on Twitter at @cjs_photography and ISN at @islandsports1.

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.