Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 17, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – It took the Victoria Eagles until their very last game of the season, but they can now breathe a sigh of relief, as thanks to a pair of complete game, 5-2 and 4-0 wins over the Okanagan A’s Sunday by Fynn Chester and Martin Eckard respectively, they have clinched a spot in the BC Premier Baseball League playoffs.
A complete game, five-hit performance from the Eagles Fynn Chester gave Victoria a 5-2 win over Okanagan in game one Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Eagles (21-23) faced a must win situation in both games Sunday, as the eighth place Coquitlam Reds (20-23) and ninth place Abbotsford Cardinals (20-24) – each within one game of the seventh place Eagles – were winning their Sunday games and had the Eagles lost a pair, they would have found themselves sitting on the outside and looking in from the ninth place slot. In addition, the Eagles needed to rebound from a pair of crushing losses to the A’s on Saturday, where they led in both games 4-0, but lost both by scores of 8-4 and 6-5.
Cam Devlin had a pair of RBIs for the Eagles in game on Sunday and added another in game two to spark the Eagles to a pair of victories (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In game one Sunday, the always steady Fynn Chester was brilliant through six innings, allowing no runs and just three hits to the third place A’s. He gave up a pair of runs in the seventh, but closed it out to finish with the win, striking out eight in the process.
Chester was the beneficiary of a good day offensively by catcher Cam Devlin who had a pair of hits, including a double and a pair of RBIs. Luke Seginowich also had a hit and an RBI, with the other two Eagles runs coming thanks to a series of wild pitches from A’s starter and eventual losing pitcher Austin Brown.
Eagles shortstop Kobe Morris looks to the umpire in shock after he thought he had tagged out Okanagan baserunner Matt Brodt (17) on this play at second Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
If Chester was good in game one, Eckard was even better in game two, shutting out the A’s on just four scattered hits while striking out five. His only major trouble came in the bottom of the fifth when a two-out double put A’s on second and third, but he then got a big strikeout to end the inning and the threat.
The Eagles Martin Eckard pitched a four-hit, 4-0 shut-out over the A’s in game two Sunday, clinching a playoff spot for the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Offensively, the Eagles scored in the first and fourth and then capped it off with two insurance runs in the top of the seventh (the Eagles were the visiting team in game two). Singles by Lenn Nakatsuka and Tyler Duncan and a ground out RBI from Devlin would give the Eagles the 1-0 lead in the first, while an RBI single from Nate Postle would bump that to 2-0 in the fourth.
In the seventh, a Kobe Morris RBI single scored Postle, while Jayden Wakeham, who earlier walked, eventually came in to score on a wild pitch.
The Eagles finish the regular season at 21-23 and guarantee themselves a seventh or eighth place finish. The 20-23 Coquitlam Reds have a game in hand and could bump the Eagles to eighth with a win over North Shore on Monday night (the Reds hold the tie-breaker over the Eagles).
The Eagles Lenn Nakatsuka had a hit and a run scored in each of the two Eagles wins on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
As to who the Eagles might play in round one, it appears it will be North Shore, as they currently sit second with two games to play, however there still could be some movement in the top four teams heading down the stretch. The Twins could catch first place Langley with wins in both their games and a Blaze loss in their final game. Also, the fourth place Victoria Mariners, winners of two Sunday over North Delta, could vault themselves into a three-way tie for second should they win their two remaining games and North Shore lose their two. The A’s are locked in at 30-14 and can finish no worse than fourth.