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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.