Late-inning heroics lift Pirates to two wins

NANAIMO – The Hub City Paving Pirates split doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday at Serauxmen Stadium against Langley and Abbotsford.

Umpire Dan Rogers watches closely as Nanaimo Pirates catcher Lee Martin gets ready to try to tag out Langley Blaze baserunner Nick Rutckyj during Saturday's game at Serauxmen Stadium.

Umpire Dan Rogers watches closely as Nanaimo Pirates catcher Lee Martin gets ready to try to tag out Langley Blaze baserunner Nick Rutckyj during Saturday's game at Serauxmen Stadium.

Playing two of the best teams in the league, the Nanaimo Pirates rose to the challenge.

The Hub City Paving Pirates premier baseball team split doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday at Serauxmen Stadium against the Langley Blaze and Abbotsford Cardinals, respectively.

“They’re really good teams so it’s good that we finally got our act together and pulled through,” said Connor Jones, Pirates outfielder.

The Pirates beat the Blaze 2-1 to start the weekend but lost the rematch 9-2. On Sunday the Cards won the early game 7-1 but the Pirates won the finale 6-2.

The first game of the weekend was the best of the bunch. Tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the seventh, the nine-hole hitter Jones hit a walk-off home run. The coaching staff had been considering pinch-hitting for Jones, but didn’t, and he rewarded their faith with his first-ever long bomb out of Serauxmen.

The Pirates booted the ball around a bit to start the second game and it got away from them.

Nanaimo felt it missed opportunities in the loss to Abbotsford, so it was redemption to win the last one. The Pirates allowed the Cards to tie it 1-1 in the top of the sixth, but Nanaimo manager Doug Rogers implored his players to try to get back the momentum right away.

“And they did,” said Rogers. “We had some really timely hits, scored some runs on doubles, put up a five-spot in that inning and put away the game.”

It was Jones who supplied the go-ahead hit, an RBI double.

“I had a really rough start to the season. Now picking it up here and getting those two big hits was really awesome,” he said. “I’m more confident and it’s better to go out there and play like that.”

In the weekend opener, Aidan Goodall threw a complete-game, holding the Blaze to four hits and no earned runs. Alex Rogers was 2-for-3.

T.J. Mah went 2-for-4 in Saturday’s late game.

Brady Rogers had two hits in both games against the Cardinals, Zach Diewert was 3-for-4 in the finale and Shawn Arabsky was 2-for-3 in that one. Luke Skingle limited the Cards to three hits in a complete game.

GAME ON … Next action for the Pirates is Saturday (June 8) when they host the Victoria Mariners at noon and 2:30 p.m. at Serauxmen Stadium … Last week’s rainout against the Parksville Royals has been rescheduled for July 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Serauxmen.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com