Blaze Catching Fire, Three-Win Weekend Puts Them in Thick of BCPBL Race

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It was all smiles for the Blaze in game two Saturday as they would defeat the Twins 3-2 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

May 5, 2018, Langley, BC – After losing the first of their four weekend games 5-2 to the North Shore Twins on Saturday, the Langley Blaze rattled off three wins in a row, one against the Twins Saturday and two on the road against the Victoria Mariners on Sunday, to get themselves right back into the mix of things for the top spot in the BC Premier Baseball League.

Langley third baseman Jarred Crossley makes a throw to first during action against the Twins on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Langley third baseman Jarred Crossley makes a throw to first during action against the Twins on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The three wins improves the Blaze’s record to 8-3 and puts them just 1.5 games back of league leading Abbotsford (9-1) (see related article) and the Parksville Royals (11-3), who are in a virtual tie for first, after both teams swept their Sunday doubleheaders.

Roman Guthrie was one of seven different Twins to get a hit in North Shore's 5-2 win over Langley on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Roman Guthrie was one of seven different Twins to get a hit in North Shore’s 5-2 win over Langley on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Blaze began their season rather slowly – not beginning league play until April 21st, splitting their first four games with Okanagan and then having four games rained out last weekend –  and that is how they began on Saturday, coming up short in a 5-2 decision to the defending champion North Shore Twins at McLeod Park in Langley.

North Shore's Declan Dutton kept the Langley bats in check Saturday, giving up two runs on six hits over 5.2 innings of work, getting the win in the 5-2 Twins victory (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
North Shore’s Declan Dutton kept the Langley bats in check Saturday, giving up two runs on six hits over 5.2 innings of work, getting the win in the 5-2 Twins victory (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Their two runs did not come until the bottom of the sixth inning, but that was too little, too late, as the Twins used hits from seven different players, including an RBI-double from Ryan Baker and an RBI-triple from Daniel Sereda to score two in the second and two in the fourth to provide more than enough runs for the margin of victory.

Langley third baseman Jared Crossley prepares to tag North Shore's Wyatt Schnoor (2) in this rundown Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Langley third baseman Jared Crossley prepares to tag North Shore’s Wyatt Schnoor (2) in this rundown Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

That was also due in large part to the fine starting pitching of the Twins Declan Dutton, who gave up those two Langley runs on six scattered hits, while walking just two and striking out five, over 5.2 innings of work.

Other game one offensive notes for the Twins included two-run games from both Adam Maier and Sereda and five separate players cashing in an RBI.

For the Blaze, Daniel Martin with a single and double and Holden Cumiskey each had two-hit games while a Josh Marchese single accounted for the only two Blaze RBIs of the game.

A fourth inning RBI triple from North Shore's Daniel Sereda was the highlight of a 2-run inning that sparked the Twins to a 5-2 win in game one (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
A fourth inning RBI triple from North Shore’s Daniel Sereda was the highlight of a 2-run inning that sparked the Twins to a 5-2 win in game one (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Dutton (1-0) would get the win in his first appearance of the season while the Blaze’s Tate Dearing (0-1) would take the loss, going just two innings and giving up two runs on one hit and four walks, while striking out four.

In game two Saturday, the Blaze would find their winning ways, but would need to do it in dramatic fashion, getting an RBI-single from Nick Holdershaw in the bottom of the seventh to grab a walk-off 3-2 win.

North Shore shortstop Adam Maier would not be able to come up with this throw as Langley's Colby Ring (49) slides in safely to second (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
North Shore shortstop Adam Maier would not be able to come up with this throw as Langley’s Colby Ring (49) slides in safely to second (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Blaze would start the scoring in the bottom of the first when Jayden Knight would lead off with a double and score on an RBI ground out from Brandon Nicoll.

That 1-0 lead looked pretty good for Blaze starter Theo Millas, who retired the Twins in order over the first three innings, but then appeared to injure his shoulder during the course of a lead-off walk to the Twins Dylan Moore in the fourth.

Langley catcher Holden Cumiskey puts the tag on North Shore's Wyatt Schnorr on this play at the plate in the seventh inning of game one Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Langley catcher Holden Cumiskey puts the tag on North Shore’s Wyatt Schnorr on this play at the plate in the seventh inning of game one Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Millas would leave the game for reliever Sean Sasaki and he would struggle initially, eventually giving up RBI singles to Wyatt Schnorr and Ryan Baker, putting the Twins up 2-1.

After the Blaze responded with an run to tie it in the bottom of the inning,  Sasaki would settle in to keep the Twins off the board into the seventh, getting some help from Ryan Beitel for the final out of that inning and setting up the walk-off dramatics.

Langley's Sean Sasaki was solid in relief of Theo Millas, going 3.2 innings and holding the Twins to just a single run in the Blaze's 3-2 win on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Langley’s Sean Sasaki was solid in relief of Theo Millas, going 3.2 innings and holding the Twins to just a single run in the Blaze’s 3-2 win on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

In that seventh, things began well for the Twins, as they turned an double play to erase the first two Blaze batters of the game, but then an error by the catcher, a single and a walk loaded the bases for Holdershaw and his single scored Ryan Scott to give the Blaze the dramatic win.

Nick Holdershaw would be the hero Saturday, knocking in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Blaze defeated the Twins 3-2 in game two of their doubleheader (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Nick Holdershaw would be the hero Saturday, knocking in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Blaze defeated the Twins 3-2 in game two of their doubleheader (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

On Sunday in Victoria, the Blaze needed less drama in game one against the Mariners at Layritz Park, as they jumped all over Mariners starter Duncan Brens-Knight for nine runs and nine hits in the first two innings of the game, en route to an 11-2 win.

Langley's Ethan Gray (20) would be a dead duck at second base on this steal attempt, as Twin's shortstop Sam Van Snellenberg would easily get the tag down in time (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Langley’s Ethan Gray (20) would be a dead duck at second base on this steal attempt, as Twin’s shortstop Sam Van Snellenberg would easily get the tag down in time (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Daniel Martin and Justin Thorsteinson were the offensive heroes of the day, each  with three hits, including a double, while Martin, with four and Thorsteinson, with three, accounted for seven of the 10 Blaze RBI on the day.  Nick Holdershaw, Josh Marchese and Michael O’Toole also added two hits each to the 16-hit blaze output.

Langley's Daniel Martin would have a pair of hits in the Blaze's 5-2 loss to North Shore on Saturday and would add three more in a game against the Mariners on Sunday  (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Langley’s Daniel Martin would have a pair of hits in the Blaze’s 5-2 loss to North Shore on Saturday and would add three more in a game against the Mariners on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Colby Ring (3-0) got the win going four innings and giving up just one Mariner run (unearned) on one hit, while walking two and striking out five.

Things were a little tighter in game two of the set with the Mariners on Sunday, as the Blaze scored four in the top of the sixth to overcome a 4-3 Mariners lead, but then had to hang on in the bottom of the seventh to come away with a 7-6 win.

North Shore's Sam Van Snellenberg makes the toss to first against the Blaze on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
North Shore’s Sam Van Snellenberg makes the toss to first against the Blaze on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Justin Thorsteinson kept up the hot bat for the Blaze with a pair of hits, including a triple and two runs scored, while Brandon Nicoll, Tate Dearing and Jared Crossley all had two-RBI games.

For the Mariners, Chris Niketas had a two-hit game with three-RBI including two in the dramatic seventh inning.  Josh Walker also had three-hits, with a double and an RBI.

North Shore catcher Wyatt Schnorr prepares to toss to first after fielding a bunt in game two action against Langley Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
North Shore catcher Wyatt Schnorr prepares to toss to first after fielding a bunt in game two action against Langley Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Ryan Beitel (2-0) took the win in relief for the Blaze, while Matt Collette (0-2) takes the loss for the Mariners.

Next up for Langley is a trip to White Rock on Tuesday night to face the Tritons and then a return to McLeod Park for games against the Cardinals on Thursday and two against the Whalley Chiefs on Saturday.

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