Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
August 1, 2021, Langley, BC – The Langley Blaze powered their way to the 2021 BC Premier Baseball League (BCPBL) title on Sunday afternoon by defeating the Victoria Eagles 13-1 in the Championship Game of the BCPBL playoffs at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley.
Led by Nathan Kirkpatrick with three hits and five RBI, the Blaze pounded out 14 hits on the day and broke open a relatively close 3-1 game with six runs in the top of the fifth inning and then another four in the top of the sixth to put the game out of reach for the Eagles.
Tom Poole started for the Blaze and he went the distance, giving up the one Eagle run on four hits, while walking one and striking out five in his six innings of work.
Earlier in the day, the Blaze offensive machine put up nine hits in a 8-1 win over the White Rock Tritons in the first semi-final of the day. Poole was the offensive catalyst in that game, slashing a triple and two doubles and scoring three runs.
Jacob Sedun was brilliant on the hill for the Blaze against White Rock, giving up the one run on two hits, while striking out seven in his complete game, seven innings of work.
The Blaze were certainly deserving winners of the title. As hosts for the Sunday games, they did not need to win a single game in the round robin portion of the tournament, held Friday through Saturday, to earn a berth in the semis, but they made sure they did, finishing with a 3-1 record in their playoff games, defeating North Delta Blue Jays, the Victoria Mariners and the Royals, while losing their very first game, in a 3-2 squeaker, to the Coquitlam Reds.
They also had the best regular season record, finishing with a 19-5 record.
For the Eagles, the silver medal marks the end of a very good season for the scrappy raptors, as they went 14-8 in the regular season and then put together a 3-0 run in the round robin portion of the tournament, that was not without its dramatic moments.
After defeating the Okanagan A’s 8-2 in their first game, the Eagles then needed a walk-off hit from Oliver Mabee in their second, to defeat the Whalley Chiefs 9-8. And on Saturday afternoon, with a berth to the semis on the line, they used an eight run fourth inning to overcome a 6-1 deficit to the Abbotsford Cardinals and come away with a 10-6 win.
That win put the Eagles into a semi-final match-up with their Island rival Parksville Royals, who used their own drama Saturday night in their final game of the round robin to defeat the Victoria Mariners 2-0 and punch their ticket to the semis.
In that game, the Royals used a complete game, four-hit, 12-strikeout shut out from their ace Anson McGorman to get themselves the win.
In the Eagles, Royals match-up at Noon Sunday, the Eagles once again scrapped their way back from a 6-2 deficit by scoring five runs in the top of the sixth inning and then held on for the thrilling 7-6 win.
Jordon Bond was the Royal killer at the plate for the Eagles, with two hits, including a double and three RBI, while Jack Finn and Owen Luchies pitched two innings each of shut-out ball down the stretch. Luchies also had four big strikeouts, including two in a row to end the bottom of the sixth inning, after Parksville had put runners on first and second with just one out.
And while the Eagles looked like they might fight back against the Blaze when, trailing 3-0 in the third, Kai Gray singled and eventually scored on an error, it was not to be, as the Langley offensive machine kept grinding away at Eagles pitching en route to the 13-1 win.
Sunday’s finals, put as normal a finish on the BCPBL season as it could, given the delayed start of the season because of COVID and early travel restrictions that saw many teams only play one opponent over the first eight games of the year.
However, the bottom line is that for all players involved, many of whom have not had the chance to play meaningful games for a season and a half, just being back on the field, playing a game they love, was reward enough.
Congratulations to the Langley Blaze on their 2021 title and season. And congratulations to the Eagles, Tritons and Royals on their playoff runs, as well as to all teams in the BCPBL for making the best of the 2021 season.
All images from the BCPBL Championship by photographer Christian J. Stewart will be posted at https://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/f338471608