Potter No-Hitter Gives Eagles Split With Parksville

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

Victoria, BC (ISN) – After dropping their home opener 3-2 to the Parksville Royals on Saturday, the Victoria Eagles needed a spark to get their season going and they got it big time from Premier rookie pitcher Jacob Potter who threw a complete game no-hitter to lead the Eagles to a bounce back 6-1 win over the Royals in game two of their double-header Saturday at Lambrick Park in Victoria.

Victoria’s Jacob Potter threw a complete game no-hitter to give the Eagles a 6-1 win over Parksville in game two of their double-header on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The hard-throwing Potter struck out 12 over the course of his no-hit performance and the only damage the Royals could do was a single run that came courtesy of a hit batter, walk (one of three Potter issued on the day), sacrifice bunt and passed ball in the second inning.

Potter’s performance saved what could have been a tough day for an Eagles squad that opened the season missing four of their top veteran players, with Tyler Duncan, Kobe Morris and Fynn Chester in Kamloops playing at the Best of the West Tournament and Kieran Waters sidelined with a broken thumb.

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Victoria baseball legend Bob Burrows (left) and his grandson Josh Burrows (right) threw out the ceremonial first pitches at the Eagles opener on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That pressed a number of young rookie and Junior Premier players into action and their inexperience and opening day jitters were very much in evidence in game one, as four Eagle errors led directly to two of the Royals three runs, and at the plate, the younger, inexperienced hitters had their trouble with Parksville starter and eventual winner Adam McKillikan.

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Part of Saturday’s Eagles opening ceremonies included memorial plaque dedications to the families of Reid Kyfiuk (left) and Larry Feldman (right) two members of the Greater Victoria Baseball community that passed away last year, Kyfiuk in a snowboarding accident and Feldman from ALS. (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

With the absence of Chester, the Eagles sent veteran Martin Eckard to the mound and on the first pitch of the game, Parksville’s Kieran Bowles greeted him with a single to right. Next, Thomas Green lofted a line drive to centre that seemed to go through the glove of Ethan Tremblay, starting in place of Duncan, and suddenly the Royals had runners on second and third with nobody out.

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A few of the younger Eagles pass the time away waiting for Saturday’s game to get underway (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

A ground ball RBI out by Zach Waddington would plate the first run of the game, before Eckard would settle down to strike out the final two batters of the inning to escape without further damage.

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Parksville pitcher Adam McKillikan would put a damper on the Eagles home opener, throwing a complete game five-hitter to give the Royals a 3-2 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Both McKillikan and Eckard would shut down their respective opponents for the next three innings until the top of the fifth when the Royals would strike again. Errors and sloppy defensive play would once again come into play, as Parksville’s Robbie Dhut would reach on a one-out error by second baseman Cole Mayhew and eventually come around to score after a wild pitch and then a throwing error to third by Eckard on a ground ball back to him by Kieran Bowles.

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Eagles starter Martin Eckard deserved a better fate Saturday, getting tagged with the loss while giving up just one earned run and two hits and striking out eight in his five innings of work (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Another Royals run in the top of the seventh made it 3-0 before the Eagle’s offence finally found a way to score off McKillikan in the bottom of the inning.

First, Lenn Nakatsuka would get hit by a pitch to lead things off and advance to second on a steal. After an out, Cam Devlin would single to centre and an errant throw home would allow Nakatsuka to score the Eagles first run of the season.

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Both the Eagles Lenn Nakatsuka and Parksville baserunner Jaydan Saban look for the call after a play at second. Saban was called out (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After a Luke Seginowich single and Colton O’Brien strikeout, the Eagle’s Parker Swinton then lofted what looked to be a game ending fly ball to left. However Royals leftfielder Matt Stevenson lost the ball in the sun at the last second and when it bounced off his shoulder, Devlin came in to score and suddenly the Eagles had the tying and winning runs on third and second respectively.

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Errors, including this one by Eagles second baeman Cole Mayhew, proved costly for the Eagles in game one Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The comeback was not meant to be however and McKillikan struck out pinch hitter Jayden Wakeham to end the game and give the Royals the 3-2 win.

The offensive momentum in that last inning carried over for the Eagles in game two however and they would give Potter all the runs he would need in the first inning alone, scoring a pair of runs thanks in part to a pair of errors that allowed Nakatsuka (walk) and Seginowich (single) to score.

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The Royals used some good defence, including this double play by shortstop Thomas Green, to help preserve the 3-2 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Eagles added another in the second thanks to an RBI single from Andy Weir that scored Nate Postle and three more in the third thanks to a single from Wakeham that scored a pair of runs and an RBI ground out by Eckard that scored another.

After that it was all Potter, as he retired 12 of the next 14 batters, including seven in a row to end the game.

In addition to Potter’s stellar performance on the mound, the Eagles Luke Seginowich had a pretty good day with four hits in five at bats and can boast that he is now leading the BCPBL in hitting with an .800 average.

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Colton O’Brien give a high five to Lenn Nakatsuka after scoring the Eagles first run of 2016 in game one Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Eagles Head Coach Anthony Pluta viewed today as a great chance for some of his young players to get their feet wet early. “Really it’s baptism by fire for them,” said Pluta. “I am down four key players, so this was a great opportunity for them to get their first game action at the Premier level under their belt. I’d rather have them do that now, as it can only help us down the road. All-in-all, I think they did great, a little sloppy on defence, but we had a chance to win at the end of that first game and that’s all I can ask.”

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Luke Seginowich had a good Premier debut Saturday, going four for five in total in both games and making some nice plays in right field on defence (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Eagles now take their 1-1 record on the road to Abbotsford on Sunday. The Cardinals were blanked 9-0 and 7-0 by Whalley on Saturday and the Eagles will hope to add to their woes again on Sunday. Justice Carter and Stephen Wade are the expected starters for the Eagles in those games.

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