Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
August 16, 2021, Victoria, BC – Don’t look now, but the North Shore Twins appear to be warming up just in time for the 2021 BC Junior Premier Baseball League (BCJPBL) playoffs.
The Twins travelled to Victoria on the weekend where they swept a pair of games from the Victoria Eagles on Saturday, winning 11-4 and 15-2 and then split a pair with the Mariners on Sunday, losing 3-2 and then rebounding for a 7-6 win in game two.
The loss to the Mariners was only the second loss for the Twins in their last nine games and combined with the three wins, runs their overall record to 17-11, giving them some much needed momentum down the stretch.
If the Twins, the 2018 Junior Premier Champions, hope to get back up on the Championship podium in 2021, they will have their work cut out for them, as they will be in a playoff “pool of death” August 27-28 with the Whalley Chiefs, Victoria Mariners (18-13) and Langley Blaze (18-8).
Whalley (currently at 14-15) gets an automatic bye as hosts to the semi-finals on Sunday, August 29th, so that means the Twins will have to make sure they beat the Mariners and the Blaze to advance, both of which currently have 18 wins each on the season. Regardless the result, one thing is for certain and that is two teams with solid winning records in the regular season will be on the outside looking in for the semi-finals on Sunday.
The Twins beat the Blaze 6-1 in their only matchup of the year so far, so they know what they need to do there to win. They also just had their first look at a tough Mariners squad, so despite the loss Sunday, they should have some playoff confidence against them too.
However when it comes down to a basic “win and your in” one game scenario in a playoff round robin, anything can happen, but if the Twins can do what they did to the Eagles on Saturday, they should have no trouble emerging from that pool and securing a spot in the semis.
In Victoria Saturday, the Twins pounced on the Eagles for 23 hits combined in the two games and scored early in both, jumping out to a 10-0 lead by the fifth inning in game one, and a 12-1 lead after three innings in game two. They also had a 5-0 lead on the Mariners in game two Sunday before giving that all back, eventually escaping with the win.
The Twins quick start offence is powered by a pair of elite hitters in Tate Martin and Cam Macleod. All Grade 9 student Martin did Saturday against the Eagles was go a combined five for eight with six RBI and three runs scored. He had four doubles on the scorecard before the second game was two innings old and added another hit in the Twins win against the Mariners on Sunday. And Macleod almost single-handedly beat the Eagles in game one Saturday, notching four hits, with two RBI and scoring a pair of runs himself.
That is not to say that Martin and Macleod do not have a strong supporting cast on offence. Kaden Douglas-Pluff had a strong weekend, also going a combined five for eight in the three games he played, with three RBI and four runs scored, while Arman Drar had four hits, three RBI and two runs scored in the two games against the Eagles. Leadoff hitter Ken Nakane also had four hits, four runs scored and two RBI in the four game weekend set.
On the mound, the Twins seem as set as anybody and perhaps have one of the best young arms in the game in Nick Frers, who started against the Eagles in game one Saturday. Frers is unhittable, topping 90 mph when he is on his game, but he can be wild, as evidenced by the five walks surrendered in 4.1 innings of work against the Eagles. This while striking out seven and only allowing two hits.
Drar is another starter with a big upside for the Twins. He recently had a complete game, nine strikeout, 6-1 win over Langley, but Sunday against the Mariners, Drar also struggled with control, walking six in 4.1 innings of work. Both he and Frers will need to fine tune their mechanics come playoff time in order to be difference makers for the Twins.
Other notables on the hill include Brendan Chen, who went five strong innings against the Eagles, giving up two runs on four hits, as well as Owen Hillen and Nakane, who had solid relief appearances for the Twins against the Mariners.
Defensively, the Twins only had one error in the two games with the Eagles, but had three each in the games with the Mariners, which led to a combined seven unearned runs crossing the plate. That is another area in which the Twins will need to improve should they wish to win their playoff games and get that shot at the 2021 semi-finals.
The Twins will have three remaining games in the regular season to work out the kinks, taking on the White Rock Tritons in White Rock on Thursday night. They then head to Whalley for a pair against the Chiefs on Sunday August 22nd.
The Twins then open their playoff round in Whalley on Friday August 27th at 4:00 pm when they face the Victoria Mariners. They then play the Chiefs at 9:30 am on Saturday the 28th and then close out their round robin against the Blaze at 3:30 pm that same day.
Semi -finals in Whalley on Sunday the 29th are scheduled for 9:00 am and 12 Noon, while the 2021 JPBL Championship Game is scheduled for 3:00 pm.
The full set of photos from the Twins and Victoria Eagles game Saturday will be available at https://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/p888904777