They’re in the final four, and now they’ll try to make it to the very top.
The Nanaimo Pirates begin play Friday (July 31) at the B.C. Premier Baseball League championships in Victoria.
The Hub City Paving Pirates feel like they’re peaking for the finals. They’ve been the league’s top offensive team all year long, and now pitching and defence are coming around at just the right time.
“We know we’re one of the teams to beat. We’re really rolling right now,” said Garrett Goodall, Pirates pitcher and outfielder. “We’re hitting really good, we’re pitching really good, defence, everything is just flowing really well into the finals which is what we want. It’s the best we’ve played all year.”
The Pirates will have to be at their best all weekend at the final four tournament. The other teams are the North Shore Twins, who won the pennant; the Victoria Eagles, tournament hosts; and the Okanagan Athletics, who knocked off the Langley Blaze last weekend.
“We didn’t ever lose a series with a team – we either tied or won the series,” pointed out Shawn Arabsky, Pirates outfielder. “So we’ve proved that we could beat any team and that we can play with any team in the league.”
The Pirates start the tournament against the Eagles in Friday evening’s feature game. It shapes up as a pitching duel between two of the league’s best, said Pirates manager Doug Rogers, with Nanaimo’s Josh Burgmann and Victoria’s Ethan Skuija. Facing aces at a tournament like this means the heavy-hitting Pirates might have to play some small ball.
“We have some guys that will sacrifice themselves as far as bunting, moving runners, and we have some good baserunners. That’s the nice part about this team – it’s pretty versatile,” Rogers said. “Obviously the bats, one through nine, [are] the strongest in the league, but we also have some ways to generate some runs when that dries up.”
Arabsky said it’s fun playing in tight ball games, when everything that happens on the field means more. No matter what, these are high-stakes ball games this weekend, ones the Pirates have been imagining since spring training.
“Winning the championship was the goal – not just making playoffs, not just making the final four,” Arabsky said. “Everyone bought in during the season [and] during practice that this was our goal, and we’re close to achieving it.”
GAME ON … The BCPBL championships will be held at Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park. The Pirates play the Eagles on Friday at 5:30 p.m.