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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.