Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
April 28, 2019, Victoria, BC – They are two teams and programs that perennially dominate the BC Junior Premier Baseball League (BCJPBL) and 2019 is shaping up to be much the same, as the North Shore Twins and Langley Blaze both swept their double headers in Victoria on Sunday to vault to the top of the early season BCJPBL standings.
The Twins, three-time defending Junior Premier Champions, are on a mission to capture their fourth title in a row and came out firing Sunday, defeating the Victoria Mariners 14-1 and 12-7 at Henderson Park to move to 7-1 on the season and into second place, a game behind the Blaze, who in-turn marched in to Rotary Park in Sidney and defeated the Victoria Eagles 4-3 and 5-2 to move into first place with a 9-1 record.
At Henderson Park Sunday, the Twins wasted no time jumping all over Mariners game one starter Zach Fletcher for six runs in the first two innings, eventually building up a 9-0 lead, en route to the 14-1 win.
Leading the way offensively for the Twins in that game was Blake Dalla-Zanna, with a pair of hits and four RBI, while Colin Baxter and Anthony Setticasi chipped in a hit and two RBI each.
Twins starter Graham Seltzer (2-0) went the distance in the five-inning, mercy-rule shortened game, giving up the one Mariner run on just three hits and two walks, while striking out four.
In the second game of the set, the Mariners would actually hold 2-0, 6-5 and 7-6 leads, only to see the Twins score three runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings to emerge with the 12-7 win.
The Mariners built a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, but watched that disappear in the top of the fourth as the Twins, thanks in part to a three-RBI double from Dalla-Zanna, who now leads the league with 11 RBI, put up five runs to jump into the 5-2 lead.
A Zach Young two-RBI single capped a four run Mariners fourth that put them back up 6-5 and the see-saw battle continued from there until the Twins got to Mariners reliever Luka Hrgovich for the six runs over the final two innings to put the game away.
In addition to Dalla-Zanna’s three-RBI game, the Twin’s Baxter also had a second solid game at the plate, with a pair of hits, including a double, two RBI and two runs scored. Setticasi and Jack Cameron also had two-hit, two run games.
On the hill, Setticasi takes the win in relief for the Twins, pitching the final 1.2 innings, giving up just a pair of walks while striking out two.
With the two losses, the young Mariners, move to 0-4 on the season, with their two other losses coming to the Blaze last weekend in Langley. Ironically, the Mariners have had the same number of games postponed already this season (4), including two with the Blaze that were scheduled for Saturday in Victoria.
The Mariners, who made the BCJPBL final four in 2018, appear to be in a rebuilding mode this year and will now look for their first win of 2019 when they travel to North Delta on Saturday May 4th to take on the Blue Jays.
At Rotary Park in Sidney on Sunday, the Blaze had a tough time with the upstart Eagle’s in game one, trailing 3-1 before mounting a three-run seventh inning and escaping with a 4-3 win.
One of those three runs came on an RBI-single from Ayden Hadley, his second RBI of the game, while the other two came on an Eagle’s two-out error – the potential final out of the game – that allowed Hadley and Jacob Sedun to score the go-ahead runs.
That would be all Blaze starter Cole Bruhaug would need, as he struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to get the complete game victory, his league-leading third of the year.
Eagle’s starter Jacob Popadynec held the Blaze in check through four innings, giving up one run on just two hits, while walking and striking out five. Ty Hall came on in relief and was also solid, giving up the one earned run on just one hit, five walks and four strikeouts, but was charged with the tough loss.
Brandon LeBlanc and Witt Nevins led the offensive charge for the Eagles with a pair of hits and an RBI each, while Dominic Biello chipped in a double in the losing effort.
For Langley, Hadley had his hit and two RBI, Kaden Zishka doubled and Zac Laird walked three times and scored a pair of runs.
In game two at Rotary, the Eagle’s Connor Melanson and Blaze’s Jacob Sedun were locked into a tight pitching battle through the first four innings, with Melanson emerging after four with a 2-1 lead, thanks to a two-run fourth-inning blast over the left-centre field fence by LeBlanc.
The Blaze would not be denied however and in the top of the fifth, they would sting Eagles reliever Jack Swinton for four runs on three hits, capped by a two-RBI single from Cam Leiter that put the Blaze back in front 5-2.
Langley reliever Reece Usselman would take over from there, keeping the Eagles scoreless over the final two frames to earn the save, with help from a key double play in the bottom of the sixth.
Sedun gets the win, going five full innings and giving up the Eagle’s two runs on five hits and no walks, while striking out five. Swinton takes the loss for the Eagles in relief.
The losses drop the Eagles record to 1-5 on the season and they now share the basement of the BCPBL with the Mariners. Like the Mariners, they too have had four games postponed so far this season and will look to get back on the winning track Saturday when they travel to UBC to take on the Junior Thunder.
In other Junior Premier League action Sunday, the Junior Cardinals swept a pair from Okanagan by scores of 3-2 and 11-6, the Junior Blue Jays defeated the Junior Pirates 9-5 and the Junior Thunder defeated the Junior Reds 6-4. The second game of those two latter match-ups were still in progress at press time.
Additional photos from both of these games will be available in a few days at https://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/f712622159