The Nanaimo Pirates didn’t make things easy on themselves, but they won, as usual.
The Hub City Paving Pirates (14-3) of the B.C. Premier Baseball League defeated the Parksville Royals 2-1 in extra innings on Wednesday evening at Serauxmen Stadium.
Pirates manager Doug Rogers said the win looks great in the standings, but that’s about it.
“From a team standpoint of where I hoped we’d be by this time, I wasn’t very happy at all…” he said. “That might have been our worst game, execution-wise, of the year.”
In both the seventh and the eighth innings, the Pirates could have ended the game with a walk-off sacrifice fly, but first they made a baserunning mistake, then they failed to execute a squeeze play. Finally, in the ninth, Alex Rogers delivered a game-winning RBI single.
“It seems like we’ve won half our games in walk-off fashion this year,” he said. “We’d like to not keep that going, we’d rather win games free and easy.”
He said the game should never have even required extra innings, pointing to the first inning when the Pirates loaded the bases with no outs but pushed across just one run.
“Lots of times we could have put it away. We had nine runners left on base,” said Colby Morgan, Pirates pitcher. “It’s more mental. When you’re up there, it’s knowing what you’ve got to do, knowing the situation.”
Morgan cruised through nine innings of work, needing just 79 pitches. He allowed three hits and no earned runs, walked only one batter and struck out eight.
“You don’t really need to strike them out, [it’s] just putting the ball in play and keeping my pitch count down,” he said.
Ben Dunbar had a single, a double and a walk and Alex Rogers had a walk and two hits including his game-winning single.
“With one out, pretty much I was just trying to get the ball in play,” he said. “I got two quick strikes on me, it crossed my mind that I might not get it done but you’ve got to stay confident in there and keep your head in the game.”
Doug Rogers said the Pirates might have had some trouble with the Royals because everyone was trying too hard to be the hero.
“The game is the same whether it’s the first at-bat or the most important at-bat of the game,” said the manager. “You can’t alter your disposition mentally when you go up. You still have to be calm, you still have to look for certain pitches.”
The Pirates, winners of 10 straight home games, will now head to the mainland for a doubleheader Sunday (May 13) against the North Delta Blue Jays.
“We need to play to our ability,” said Alex Rogers. “We know that we’re one of, if not the strongest team in the league and we’ve got to start playing like it.”
BASE LINES … Morgan (3-1) was selected as the BCPBL’s Player of the Week for April 30-May 6. His 0.25 earned-run average is best in the premier league.