It was almost as though the Nanaimo Pirates had the championship taken away from them. That’s a hard thing to take, said manager Doug Rogers, but what the ball team is left with is one of the experiences of a lifetime.
The Hub City Paving Pirates finished as runners-up at the B.C. Premier Baseball League championships on the weekend.
They held a lead going into the final inning Sunday in Abbotsford against the Victoria Eagles and had two outs and two strikes. They were one pitch away, but a walk-off single turned the championship.
“We were playing our best baseball, things were going our way and it looked like that was carrying right through,” Rogers said. “And then the baseball gods decided to slam down the hammer.”
To be one strike away from winning it all, and then to have lost, instantly, was tough, said the manager, and emotional. Teenage boys were sobbing, something that just doesn’t happen.
“It’s going to be tough for awhile, even for me,” Rogers said. “The kids are going to take this pretty hard for quite some time, but it’ll turn into a positive over time and they’ll never forget it.”
The Pirates started the tournament Friday with a 6-2 loss to the Eagles. Devon Geary and Tristan Olsen hit doubles in that game, Brady Rogers had a pair of RBIs and Shawn Arabsky scored both Nanaimo runs.
The next day, the Pirates edged the Vancouver Cannons 7-6 in extra innings. Rogers hit a single and a double and Connor Jones had two RBIs. Geary was the winning pitcher after throwing two relief innings.
Nanaimo finished up the round robin with a 4-2 loss to the host Cardinals. Arabsky was 2-for-3.
The 1-2 record was enough for the Pirates to advance to the semifinals, where this time they had a winning result against the Cardinals, 4-1. Nanaimo compiled 10 hits in the game. Olsen hit a single and a double and Goodall, Alex Rogers and Braeden Mousseau also had two hits apiece. Luke Skingle was the winning pitcher, allowing three hits over four shutout innings of relief.
In the final Geary took the mound and allowed only one hit and one earned run over 5 2/3 innings. Arabsky and Goodall came up with RBIs in the game.
The best part of this season’s story, said Doug Rogers, is the way the team developed over the summer. A whole bunch of Pirates debuted at the premier-league level, and though they struggled with consistency over the long season, they sure became a band of ball players by the end.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way the guys came together as a team, and the improvements that they made from the beginning of the season to where they finished off at the end,” Rogers said. “It doesn’t matter who you have or who you lose – it’s what you do with the ones that want to be there.”
Not only did all the players grow, and become championship calibre, but they gained the sort of experience that will continue to inspire them. It was the best game Rogers has ever been involved in, he said, and the worst.
“The only thing I would trade it for is one more pitch. Still, the experience was second to none and I wish every kid could have the experience that these kids had.”