Mariners Open PBL Season, Finally, With Win Over Eagles

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The Victoria Mariners celebrate after opening their 2018 PBL season with a 7-0 win over the Victoria Eagles on Thursday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

April 19, 2018, Victoria, BC – They say that good things come to those that wait and that was definitely the case Thursday night for pitcher Duncan Brens-Knight and his Victoria Mariners teammates, as Brens-Knight pitched a complete game shut-out to lead the Mariners to a 7-0 win over the cross-town Victoria Eagles in what was the Mariners first BC Premier Baseball League game of the season.

The Mariner's Duncan Brens-Knight pitche a complete game shut-out, giving up just four hits in the 7-0 win over the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
The Mariner’s Duncan Brens-Knight pitche a complete game shut-out, giving up just four hits in the 7-0 win over the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Mariners have been anything but idle in the 18 days between the official opening of the PBL season on April 1, participating in tournaments in both Kamloops and Kelowna, but it took them a little while to shake off the offensive rust Thursday, as Brens-Knight and Eagles starter Hayden Wilcox, had a tense pitcher’s duel going, with the Mariners holding a slim 1-0 lead through four innings.

The Mariner's Jon Gale would get the first Mariner's hit of the 2018 season with this first inning single (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
The Mariner’s Jon Gale would get the first Mariner’s hit of the 2018 season with this first inning single (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Mariners would have a chance to extend that lead on Wilcox in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs, but Eagle’s reliever Chad Hegland would get a strikeout to end the inning, keeping the score close.

Eagles second baseman Chad Hegland turns one of two Eagles double plays on the night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Eagles second baseman Chad Hegland turns one of two Eagles double plays on the night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Eagles would then have their own chance to get on the board in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases themselves with nobody out, but they could not push anything across and the teams went to the sixth with the Mariners still holding the 1-0 lead.

Eagles third baseman Brad Cox flips the ball to second baseman Chad Hegland for a force out against the Mariners Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Eagles third baseman Brad Cox flips the ball to second baseman Chad Hegland for a force out against the Mariners Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Mariners would then get to Hegland for a pair of insurance runs in the sixth, thanks to a two-RBI single from Justin Giles that scored Trey Sjerven and Kodai Yaoita, and they would ice the game in the seventh, with four more, highlighted by a two-RBI single from Chris Niketas, his second hit of the game, that would score Jon Gale and Cole Mayhew.

Mariner's shortstop Shuta Araki completes the double play late in the game with the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Mariner’s shortstop Shuta Araki completes the double play late in the game with the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Brens-Knight was dominating early, facing just one-batter over the minimum over the first four innings and held the Eagles to just four hits total on the night. He was also helped out by his defence which turned a pair of double-plays, two of four in total by both teams on the night. He also struck out five and walked just two in picking up his first win of the season.

Eagle's shortstop Zach Swanson looks for the play to first after making the force out at second during action against the Mariners on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Eagle’s shortstop Zach Swanson looks for the play to first after making the force out at second during action against the Mariners on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Offensively for the Mariners, Niketas finished with a pair of hits, a walk, two RBI and two runs scored. Ethan Emile also had a two-hit evening with a pair of RBI, while Giles finished with a hit, walk and three RBI.

Chris Niketas would lead the Mariners offence Thursday with a pair of hits, pair of RBI and two runs scored in the 7-0 win over the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Chris Niketas would lead the Mariners offence Thursday with a pair of hits, pair of RBI and two runs scored in the 7-0 win over the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

For the Eagles, Liam Haug, Brad Cox, Hegland and Rei Kimura had the Eagle’s hits. Hayden Wilcox takes the tough loss, going 4.1 innings and giving up one run on five hits while striking out 4 and walking just one.

Eagle's starter Hayden Wilcox deserved a better fate Thursday, getting tagged with the loss, while allowing just one run on five hits, while striking out four (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Eagle’s starter Hayden Wilcox deserved a better fate Thursday, getting tagged with the loss, while allowing just one run on five hits, while striking out four (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Hegland was tagged for five runs on two hits and four walks in his two innings of work, while Dominic Hambley and Nigel Parsons saw action in relief.

After their delay to start the season, the Mariners now get busy and will host a pair of double-headers this weekend, with Nanaimo coming to Layritz Park on Saturday and the UBC Thunder visiting on Sunday.

The Mariner's Chris Niketas is congratulated after scoring a run in the seventh inning against the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
The Mariner’s Chris Niketas is congratulated after scoring a run in the seventh inning against the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Eagles, now 0-5 to start the season, will look to get in the win column as they host the Thunder on Saturday at Lambrick Park.

In other PBL action on Thursday night, a Jared Romaniuk sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh scored Brennen Flodin and gave the North Delta Blue Jays (5-1) and 4-3 win over the Coquitlam Reds (1-1). Braedy Eurby picks up the win in relief for the Jays, while Coquitlam’s Dylan McCartney gets tagged with the loss.

Mariners catcher Jon Gale and pitcher Duncan Brens-Knight shake hands following the Mariner's 7-0 win Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Mariners catcher Jon Gale and pitcher Duncan Brens-Knight shake hands following the Mariner’s 7-0 win Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Game Notes: The Eagles did win a game last weekend in Nanaimo, but it was later forfeited due to the use of an ineligible player. Heading into tonight’s action, the Mariners were one of three teams to have not played a league game yet this season. The Langley Blaze and Abbotsford Cardinals are the other two. Former Langley Blaze standout Tyler O’Neil made his MLB debut Thursday for the St. Louis Cardinals, getting a pinch hit appearance against the Cubs.

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