The Nanaimo Pirates were dominant in a do-or-die playoff game, and now they move on to the premier league championships.
The Hub City Paving Pirates defeated the Okanagan Athletics 9-0 on Monday in Game 3 of their first-round B.C. Premier Baseball League series at Serauxmen Stadium.
On Sunday Nanaimo dropped Game 1 of the series by a 5-0 score, but responded by mercying the A’s 10-0 in Game 2.
“We wanted to keep that momentum coming into this one, so we just kind of came out believing, knowing that we were better,” said Nick Smiley, winning pitcher.
The game was only in doubt for a couple of innings before the Pirates batted around in the third inning, scoring six runs. Ben Dunbar started things off with a double and the rest of the lineup kept it going.
“We knew we could play like that, because when we came out in the second game … we just pounded them and we knew that we could do it if we tried, and kept mentally strong,” Dunbar said.
Smiley had things well in hand on the mound, giving up only two hits in the complete-game shutout.
“It’s a really great feeling when you get a lot of run support,” he said. “You don’t have anything to worry about when you get an early lead like that.”
The Pirates had predicted that they might be able to find a whole other level of ball in the playoffs, and manager Doug Rogers said his players did exactly that.
“The last two games were exactly what I was looking for all year,” he said. “It took the whole year, basically – even though we had a good year – for me to see what this team was made of in this series.”
The Pirates can put a check mark beside one more of their goals for 2011. They’ve won a pennant and a playoff series, and now it’s on to the PBL championships.
“It means a lot. It’s just another stepping stone, though,” said Liam Goodall, Pirates outfielder. “Ultimately our goal is to win the final four. Now it’s just one step away. So it’s big.”
Justin Clarkson led the Pirates’ offence in Game 3 with a single, a double and four RBIs. Dunbar also had a single and a double and Goodall went 3-for-4. Joey Sabo was 2-for-3 and Nick Granton supplied two RBIs.
GAME ON … The Pirates, the Langley Blaze, the Coquitlam Reds and the Victoria Mariners advance to the league championship tournament starting Friday (July 29) at Vancouver’s Nat Bailey Stadium. The No. 1-seeded Pirates start with a game against the Blaze at 5 p.m. and the championship final will be Sunday at noon. Look for more on the Pirates on Thursday at www.nanaimobulletin.com.