Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
June 20, 2021, Victoria, BC – After a cancelled 2020 season due to COVID-19, the British Columbia Premier Baseball League (BCPBL) finally got back into this action this week, as the Province moved to Step 2 in their re-opening plan, part of which saw the return of elite organized sports and the lifting of travel restrictions for such teams.
It also meant that fans (up to 50) can now attend and watch games, and that players and coaches are under more relaxed protocols on the field and in the dugouts, relative to social distancing and mask use.
This is a welcome change for all the elite players in the PBL, who have been confined to practices for the past year and in Step 1 over the last month, were only allowed to have inter-squad games against one another, with no fans in attendance.
The PBL will be taking full advantage of the new protocols and has a full schedule of games ready to go. Teams will play a two month season, with travel being limited during June – teams will not travel to and from the Island until July – and then there will be an end of season tournament over the August long weekend.
For teams like the Victoria Eagles and Victoria Mariners, who began their season with a double-header split against each other on Saturday afternoon at Layritz Park in Victoria, it means that those teams, plus the Parksville Royals and Mid-Island Pirates, will get to know each other very quickly, as all their games in June will be played against one another.
On Saturday, it didn’t take long for both teams to shake off the offensive rust, as in game one, the Eagles would score three quick runs off Mariner starter Jaxon Smith-Peterson, thanks in part to a one out single from Tyler Burton and an RBI double from Jack Swinton. The Mariners would answer immediately in the bottom of the inning, scoring three off Eagles starter Oliver Mabee.
Smith-Peterson would settle in after that, shutting the Eagles down until he left the game in the fifth inning, and after the Mariners scored three in the bottom of the fifth, things looked to be in control for the M’s with an 8-3 lead.
The Eagles would score three in the sixth however, closing the gap to 8-6, but a pair of Mariner insurance runs in the bottom of the inning, pushed the game out of reach, despite two more runs from the Eagles in the top of the seventh.
The Mariners were led at the plate by Jayden Malinowski who had a three hits, including a double and three runs scored. Sam Shaw also had a double, walk and pair of runs scored.
For the Eagles, Burton led the offence with a pair of hits, a pair of walks and three runs scored, while Swinton added to his first inning double, with three more singles in the game. Dominic Biello also had a pair of hits and three runs scored.
In game two Saturday, the Eagles again came flying out of the gate scoring three in the first, one in the second and six more in the fourth and with the solid starting pitching of Owen Luchies, held a 10-2 lead after four innings of play.
The Eagles would extend that lead to 11-2 in the fifth, but four runs from the Mariners in the bottom of that inning, closed the gap to 11-6. The Eagles would extend the lead to 13-6 with another run in each of the sixth and seventh innings, and the hold on as the Mariners scored four in the bottom of the seventh to make the finish exciting.
For the Eagles, Dominic Biello led the offence with a pair of triples, a single and two RBI. Oliver Mabee chipped in two singles and a double, while Ryan Whelan reached base four times, two walks, a single and hit by a pitch, scoring twice.
For the Mariners, Sam Shaw was once again an offensive leader with three hits, two runs scored and an RBI, while Dylan Graw had a pair of hits and three runs scored.
These two teams will meet again Tuesday night at Lambrick Park in Victoria. Game time is slated for 6:30 pm.
In other opening games this week, Parksville defeated Mid-Island 8-5, Coquitlam defeated Whalley 4-1, North Shore blanked UBC 2-0, North Delta thumped White Rock 6-0 and Langley eked out a 2-1 win over Abbotsford.
In other reported scores Saturday, the Reds swept a pair from Whalley 9-0 and 8-1, the Twins and Thunder split with UBC winning game one 3-2 and the Twins responding with a 4-2 win in game two, the Cardinals and Blaze also split, with Abby grabbing game one 5-4 and the Blaze rebounding with a 2-1 win in game two.
The full set of photos from the Mariners and Eagles double-header can be found at https://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/p960373706