Pirates persevere and it pays off

Nanaimo Pirates baserunner Nick Granton

Nanaimo Pirates baserunner Nick Granton

Shiver me timbers – the premier Pirates provided baseball fans with an incredible day at the ballpark.

The Hub City Paving Pirates (14-2) swept the Langley Blaze (19-6) on a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon at Serauxmen Stadium by scores of 2-1 and 7-6, winning both games in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“Everything that could go right for us did today,” said Doug Rogers, Pirates manager.

The late game was the most memorable, as the Pirates came back from a 6-2 deficit through five and a half innings. Brady Rogers’ solo home run over the green monster in right field got the rally started.

“It was awesome; it was the best feeling ever,” Brady Rogers said.

It sure fired up the home dugout.

“It sparks us big time,” said Crosby Rushton, Pirates player. “We were all sitting back. Once that happens, we’re all standing up and cheering on the next guy coming up to the plate. So it’s big momentum.”

And the Pirates kept it going. The coaching staff had been advising hitters to lay off letter-high pitches, and the message sunk in, so the home team drew some walks.

“The last couple innings we kept forcing the issue, putting pressure on them,” Doug Rogers said.

A bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh made it a one-run game, and Nanaimo’s Joey Sabo tied it with an RBI single. That brought up Rushton with one out. The Pirates saw that the Blaze weren’t aggressively defending against a squeeze bunt, so on the third pitch of the at-bat, the Pirates put on the squeeze. Rushton’s bunt was well out of reach of the pitcher on the first-base side.

“It was done perfectly, they had no chance,” said the manager. “As long as the ball was on the ground, it’s game over, and it was … It was a great finish.”

Mike Williams earned the win on the mound with a complete game.

In the early game it was Kenton Schroter getting the win in another complete-game effort. He asked the manager to stay in right till the end and his teammates delivered the ‘W’ even though they only came up with one hit in the ballgame.

Nanaimo took advantage of six Langley errors, including one on the last play of the game where a Blaze infielder, trying to make a double play, air mailed the throw to first into the Pirates dugout. Baserunner Colby Morgan’s hard slide into second helped to force the off-balance throw.

“You don’t go in maliciously, but you go in hard and try and take a guy out and that’s what happened and it won us a ball game,” Doug Rogers said.

Pirates players said the sweep, which put them back in first place, was huge, and to do it in their home park made it more special.

“It meant so much, the fans out here supporting us,” Brady Rogers said. “You’ve got to put on a good show, right?”

GAME ON … The Pirates play a doubleheader against the Coquitlam Reds (10-11) this Saturday (June 4) at Serauxmen Stadium with games at noon and 2:30 p.m. The Pirates then host the North Shore Twins (9-12) on Sunday at Serauxmen. Start times that day are 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com