Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 12, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – A two-out, RBI single by Parker Swinton in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Lenn Nakatsuka and gave the Victoria Eagles a thrilling 7-6 walk-off victory over the Victoria Mariners in BC Premier Baseball League action Tuesday night at Lambrick Park in Victoria.
The Eagles celebrate their 7-6 walk-off win over the Mariners on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win gives the Eagles a 3-1 season series win over their cross-town rivals, but more importantly, puts them a bit closer to securing a playoff position, moving their record to 19-21 which puts them in seventh place, 1.5 games ahead of the 17-22 Coquitlam Reds in eighth and four games ahead of the 14-24 Abbotsford Cardinals in ninth.
Nate Postle got the Eagles rolling with a 2-RBI double in the second inning Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Eagles magic number over the Cardinals, who also won Tuesday, is now two, as the best Abbotsford can do is 20 wins and they would have to win their remaining six games to do that and then hope the Eagles lose their remaining four.
The Eagles Dan Rockwell hits the dirt to slide safely into third early in Tuesday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Eagles and their starter Martin Eckard looked to have full control of this game early on, as a second inning, two-RBI double by Nate Postle and a third inning, two-RBI single from Cam Devlin gave the Eagles a big 4-0 lead.
The Mariners would halve that lead in a hurry in the top of the fourth, when Caleb Piechnik would launch a two-run home run over the left-field fence, scoring Chris Niketas who had walked.
The Mariners Caleb Piechnik is congratulated after his 2-run home run cut the Eagles lead to 4-2 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Eagles would increase their lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth, when Tyler Duncan would draw a one-out walk from Mariners starter Jesse Simpson and Devlin would follow with a single, his third hit of the game. Reliever Jacob Moss would then replace Simpson and after retiring Dan Rockwell, Kieran Waters would launch a double to the gap that scored Duncan and Devlin.
Eagles baserunner Cam Devlin (17) uses a bit of hand action to try and disrupt this double play opportunity by the Mariners Ty Schindel (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
There was controversy on the play however, as Waters tried to stretch the hit into a triple, but an excellent relay gunned him out on the play, with the out appearing to come before Devlin had crossed the plate with the Eagles sixth run. Mariners Head Coach Mike Chewpoy argued his case with home plate umpire Kyle Yee, but Yee ruled Devlin crossed the plate before the out at third and the run stood.
The Mariners Chris Lata had a pair of hits, including a double in the Mariners loss to the Eagles on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
As is often the case with such plays, that run would play an important factor in the rest of the game, as the Mariners would mount a big rally in the top of the sixth. Chris Lata would lead things off with a ground rule double over the left-field fence to spell the end of the night for the Eagles Eckard. He would be relieved by Noah Doorschot, who had an inning of relief he would like to forget, giving up a single to Chris Niketas, hitting Piechnik, giving up a three-RBI double to Zeke Holt, walking Ethan Brunton and hitting Dylan Price to load the bases again, before being relieved by lefty Stephen Wade.
Mariners Head Coach Mike Chewpoy lets home plate umpire Kyle Yee know that he was not happy after a disputed call in the fifth inning Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Wade would come in and do his job masterfully, striking out Jesse Mycock and then inducing Ty Schindel to ground into a 1-2-3 double-play to get out of the inning without any more damage and keeping the Eagles up 6-5.
Eagles pitcher Stephen Wade reacts with emotion after pitching out of a nobody out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
After the Eagles went down in order in the bottom of the inning, the Mariners would strike again in the top of the seventh, as Nick Seginowich would draw a lead-off walk and move to third on a Lata single. He would then score on a Chris Niketas double-play ground out to tie the game 6-6. Wade would then get Piechnik to pop out to first to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Mariners Moss started well by getting Kobe Morris to ground out, but then issued a walk to Nakatsuka. Nakatsuka then stole second, which led the Mariners to intentionally walk Eagles slugger Tyler Duncan. A sacrifice fly from Devlin moved Nakatsuka to third, setting the stage for Swinton who entered the game defensively in the sixth.
He had three hits Tuesday, but perhaps Cam Devlin’s biggest at bat was a seventh inning sacrifice fly that moved the eventual winning run to third base (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Swinton wasted no time in playing hero, drilling the first pitch he saw down the third base line past the reach of Mariners third baseman Piechnik, and scoring Nakatsuka to give the Eagles the win.
The loss was a critical one for the Mariners, as they are in a four-team battle for top spot in the BCPBL with the Langley Blaze, North Shore Twins and Okanagan A’s and now drop 1.5 games back of first place Langley and a game behind North Shore and Okanagan who are tied for second.
Life does not get much easier for the Mariners, as due to rain-outs and other scheduling make-ups, they now play their final 10 games over the next seven days, with four of those games (two each) coming against the Blaze and the Twins. Two games are also against the North Delta Blue Jays who are lurking in 5th place, just three games back of the M’s.
Parker Swinton rips a single down the third base line in the seventh inning Tuesday to score the Eagles winning run against the Mariners (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Eagles will look to wrap up a playoff spot when they complete their season with a four-game set against the Okanagan A’s this weekend. The first two games go Saturday at Lambrick Park starting at 1:30 pm, while Sunday’s games begin at 10:00 am.