The Nanaimo Pirates celebrated Canada Day the right way, playing some barnburner baseball, outscoring the opposition, and winning.
The Hub City Paving Pirates swept the Victoria Mariners on Wednesday at Serauxmen Stadium, winning 14-13 in extra innings, then hanging on for a 6-5 win in the rematch.
“It was Canada Day fireworks, there’s no question. It was one of the wildest games I’ve been involved with in a long time,” said Doug Rogers, Pirates manager.
The M’s built a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning, the Pirates replied with six runs of their own in the bottom half, and that set the tone. Vic actually led 12-6 at one point but couldn’t make the lead stand.
In the eighth inning, North Rainey was inserted as a pinch runner at first, Garrett Goodall doubled to the wall in left, and Rainey sprinted around the bases so fast that the M’s didn’t even attempt a throw to the plate.
“We really battled back in the first one,” said Goodall. “We started off down, but we stuck together and got our bats going like we do and it worked out.”
That kind of win carries over to the second half of a doubleheader, Goodall said, because the winning team feels like it put in so much work and got rewarded, while the losing team works so hard and gets nothing.
“The energy was pretty good the second game,” Rogers said. “We jumped out early and it looked like we were going to cruise through that one, which we really should have.”
The Pirates led 6-1 going into the bottom of the seventh and ended up needing all six of those runs to stave off the Mariners’ comeback attempt.
“Victoria’s a tough team. They play us tough every time,” Rogers said. “I wouldn’t look forward to playing them in the playoffs … because they battle.”
The other highlight of the day was the fan support, as the games got a good turnout of spectators clad in red for Canada Day.
“Even though it’s a coach’s nightmare to watch a 14-13 game, I bet the fans loved it,” Rogers said. “They probably thought that was the best game they’ve ever watched.”
Josh Burgmann made his season debut for Nanaimo in the early game and was the winning pitcher, allowing one run over three innings while striking out four. Goodall and Cole Warken hit two doubles each, Shane Rogers hit a triple, Kevin Sengara was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and Josh Carless-Jones and Aaron Page also had two hits apiece.
In the second game, Page was the winning pitcher, giving up no earned runs over four innings. Shane Rogers hit two doubles and scored two runs, Warken had two RBIs and Chris Vlaj had a pair of hits.
GAME ON … The Pirates (24-12) play the first-place North Shore Twins (23-7) on Saturday (July 4) at Serauxmen Stadium. Game times are noon and 2:30 p.m. Nanaimo is also home Sunday to take on the North Delta Blue Jays at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.