Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 29, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – After nearly upsetting the number one and two seeds on the first two days of the BC Junior Premier Baseball League Provincials, the host Victoria Eagles finally got the job done Saturday morning, using a complete game, two-hit performance from pitcher Connor Irvine to defeat the third seeded UBC Jr. Thunder 3-1 at Lambrick Park in Victoria.
Keyed by an RBI single in the first inning from EJ Baldonaza and a two-RBI double from Jayden Cull in the fourth, the Eagles win kept their tournament hopes alive, as it did those of the North Delta Blue Jays, who were also winless for the tournament and at 0-3, needed a Thunder loss to stay in contention.
That set up an important second game of the day Saturday, as the Blue Jays and Eagles squared off in the 1:00 PM affair, with the Eagles needing a win to advance directly to the semis, while a North Delta win would force a three-way tie for third between the Eagles, Blue Jays and Thunder, who would all sport 1-3 records.
That latter scenario is in fact what happened, as the Blue Jays would come away with an 8-5 win over the Eagles, pulling away with five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, after the Eagles had tied the game 3-3 in the top of that frame.
The Eagles would score two more in the top of the seventh to make it close, but North Delta’s closer Cam Houle would stop the rally to close out the victory to keep the Blue Jays tournament hopes alive.
Leading the offence for North Delta was Dylan MacLeod who had a pair of hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Starting pitcher Caleb Cassie took the win with six complete innings, giving up three runs on three hits. Chad Hegland takes the loss for the Eagles.
The three-way tie forced a pair of qualifying games to decide the third place finisher. The Thunder, by virtue of the best run differential between the three tied teams, received a bye into a Sunday morning (10:00 AM) qualifier game, while the Eagles and Blue Jays had to come back to Lambrick Park to face each other in a 7:00 PM game on Saturday evening.
That game was won by the Blue Jays, who at one point trailed the Eagles 7-1, but came back to win the game 11-10 with a walk-off walk in the bottom of the seventh inning (see game summary below).
The Blue Jays, with their two wins over the Eagles Saturday, now stay alive and will play the Thunder in that 10:00 AM qualifier game on Sunday. The winner of that game then moves to the semi-final (now scheduled for 1:00 PM Sunday) against the White Rock Tritons, who lost to the North Shore Twins 7-1 in Saturday’s third game of the day (see game summary below).
The winner of the semi-final between White Rock and either the Thunder or Blue Jays will then face the Twins in the Championship game which is now scheduled for 4:00 PM on Sunday.
North Shore Twins – 7 White Rock Tritons – 1
The Twins moved directly to the final on Sunday after defeating the White Rock Tritons 7-1 in the third game of the day on Saturday in a battle between two 3-0 teams.
North Shore was led by starting pitcher Adam Maier, who pitched a complete game four-hitter, two of which came from White Rock shortstop Ryan Dauphinee, walking one and striking out 12. Maier also helped his own cause with a first inning solo home run that put the Twins up 2-0 early.
Also contributing for North Shore was Lucas Yang with a pair of hits and pair of RBIs, while Thomas Curalli and Hilo Yamamoto chipped in a pair of hits each. Curalli also scored twice.
Qualifier Game 1: Victoria Eagles vs North Delta Blue Jays
The longshot Victoria Eagles looked poised again for their second upset of the day, holding a 7-1 lead early in the game, only to see the North Delta Blue Jays, scrapping for their playoff lives, come back to score eight runs in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game 10-10 and then score another, with a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh, to earn a 11-10 walk off victory over the Eagles.
The win advances the Blue Jays into the second qualifying game against the UBC Jr. Thunder on Sunday morning and ended the host Eagles tournament.
For the Eagles, the loss was bittersweet. The underdog team came into the tournament with an 11th place league finish (12-28 overall) but competed hard, earning a great deal of respect, losing three of their five games by walk-offs and notching the upset over the Thunder earlier on Saturday. A bounce here and a bounce there and the Eagles easily could have been 4-0 in the round robin.
Saturday night’s qualifier against North Delta started well and Bantam call-up pitcher Arden Berg worked his way through three innings with a 7-2 lead, thanks mainly to an Eagles offence that exploded for seven runs in the first two innings off North Delta starter Cam Houle.
Leading that offensive charge for the Eagles was Jayden Cull, who had a first inning RBI single and a second inning two-RBI double and Justin Giles who had an RBI single in each inning.
Unfortunately the Eagles offence after that would be held in check by North Delta’s Sam McFarlane who came in to relieve in the second inning and conversely, the North Delta offence would come to life against Eagles relievers Tommy Hueston and Jacob Startek, scoring four runs in the fifth and four in the sixth, with the big blow being a Justin Thorsteinson two-out, two-RBI triple in that sixth that tied the game.
After Matthew Kingshott held the Eagles scoreless in the top of the ninth, the Eagles went to Dawson Clark for the bottom of the inning and after a lead-off walk, single and one-out infield single loaded the bases, Clark walked Dylan MacLeod to bring in the winning run and send the Blue Jays off the bench to celebrate the 11-10 win.
Final Round Robin Standings
1. North Shore Twins 4-0
2. White Rock Tritons 3-1
3. UBC Jr. Thunder 1-3
3. North Delta Blue Jays 1-3
3. Victoria Eagles 1-3
Qualifying Game 1 – North Delta 11, Victoria 10
Qualifying Game 2 – North Delta vs UBC Jr. Thunder (Sunday 10:00 AM)
Semi Final – Winner Q2 vs White Rock Tritons (Sunday 1:00 PM)
Championship Final – Winner SF vs North Shore Twins (Sunday 4:00 PM)