The Nanaimo Pirates have a pennant to prove they were the premier league’s best team in the regular season.
The Hub City Paving Pirates (34-14) won three out of four games this past weekend to close out their schedule. Other B.C. Premier Baseball League teams still have remaining games, but no one can catch the Pirates.
After sweeping the White Rock Tritons on a rainy Saturday at Serauxmen Stadium by scores of 5-2 and 3-1, the Pirates travelled to North Vancouver on Sunday to play the North Shore Twins, while the second-place Coquitlam Reds were in action elsewhere. The Pirates lost the early game 6-2 to the Twins, but won the finale 4-2.
“We were just trying to win our ball games, and then Coquitlam lost their two, so it just happened,” said Kenton Schroter, Pirates pitcher. “Our goal from the start was to get first place and just lose 10 games. We lost 14, but it’s still a successful season to win the pennant.”
Usually at this time of year, the Pirates are involved in play-in games to reach the post-season, but there’s none of that stress this week. Instead the pennant winners can practise at their own tempo, set up their rotation exactly how they want it and wait to find out who their playoff opponent will be.
Schroter said the team played well all season, but still hasn’t peaked.
“I don’t think this team realizes the potential we have on this ball club,” he said. “I think in the playoffs we’re going to start coming out and playing our best baseball.”
Nick Smiley was the winning pitcher in Sunday evening’s pennant-clinching victory, throwing a complete game and allowing one earned run while striking out nine. Cody Andreychuk had two hits and two RBIs and Justin Clarkson went 2-for-3.
The early game saw Clarkson take the loss on the mound. Brendan McCarthy went 3-for-4 in that one, Joey Sabo hit a single and a double and Brady Rogers supplied two RBIs.
On Saturday, Schroter won the early game, throwing a complete game while allowing no earned runs. Liam Goodall had a double and two singles, Sabo had two hits and two RBIs and McCarthy also hit safely twice.
In Saturday’s late game, six different Pirates got hits. It added up to enough offence for winning pitcher Mike Williams, who threw a complete-game four-hitter, surrending no earned runs.
BASE LINES … The Pirates won their only other PBL pennant in 2001 … The team’s first-round best-of-three series will be played at Serauxmen Stadium against a to-be-determined opponent, probably starting Sunday (July 24).