The Nanaimo Pirates couldn’t contain opposing teams within the confines of Serauxmen Stadium.
The Hub City Paving Pirates surrendered home runs in all three of their losses this past weekend at the B.C. Premier Baseball League championships and missed out on the provincial final. The Okanagan Athletics won the title on Sunday with a 9-7 victory over the North Shore Twins.
“We’re all pretty disappointed,” said Doug Rogers, Pirates manager. “With the anticipation of having it at your own field and having big crowds here, you want your kids to play the best they can at that point in the season and it just didn’t happen for us.”
The Pirates lost 8-4 to the Twins on Friday, got clobbered 9-1 by the Coquitlam Reds in Saturday’s early game and then lost 4-1 to the A’s in Saturday’s late game.
In Friday night’s feature game, the stands were so full that people were sitting in the stairwells. They were treated to fireworks, as the Twins hit a grand slam in the third inning to go up 4-2 and then the Pirates’ Brady Rogers hit a two-run home run later in the inning to tie it.
Nanaimo surrendered three home runs in the blowout against Coquitlam and another costly jack in the loss to Okie. The hot air and a breeze toward right field meant left-handed hitters were smacking the ball at – and over – the green monster all weekend long. All told, the four teams combined for 13 home runs at the tournament.
“If we had have been patient at the plate, our lineup’s stacked full of left-handed hitters and a lot of guys that can elevate the ball,” said Rogers. “We didn’t get our pitches, we didn’t take advantage of that … We had as much of an advantage as any team here with the way the weather was, and the wind, and the way the ball was carrying.”
Rogers said nerves might have contributed to the Pirates’ performance at provincials. Players swung at pitches outside the strike zone that they wouldn’t usually swing at, and made defensive mistakes that they didn’t often make during the regular season.
In the first game against the Twins, there was an error on a potential double-play ball that would have got the Pirates out of the inning unscathed. Instead, the bases were loaded and the Twins followed up with their grand slam.
“In any big tournament, if you make mistakes they end up costing you, where in the league you can get away with those mistakes,” Rogers said. “It seemed like every mistake we made, it ended up a number on the board against us.”
So the Pirates had to watch the B.C. final from Serauxmen Stadium’s stands, something that was hard to do, said the manager. Eight players graduate from the program, including Brendan McCarthy, Ben Dunbar, Colby Morgan, Bryan Odgers, Nathan Odgers, Chris Faber, Ryan Smith and Crosby Rushton. The returnees, led by Justin Clarkson, Griffin Andreychuk, Luke Skingle and possibly Alex Rogers and Brady Rogers, will get another crack next year.
“The program itself is really healthy. You can see by the people in the stands. Players played hard on the field, did the proper things on and off the field…” Doug Rogers said. “Yeah, it would’ve been nice to win a championship and wave it around in front of everybody on your home field, but it just wasn’t meant to be. But if you look at the overall season, it was something to be really proud of.”
BASE LINES … In the first game, Brady Rogers also hit a double to go with his home run. Bryan Odgers was 2-for-3 and Andreychuk hit a double off the top of the monster. Skingle took the loss on the mound. In the second game Colby Morgan suffered the loss, throwing only one inning before leaving the game with an injury. Alex Rogers had a hit and a walk. In the Pirates’ last game, six different players hit safely including McCarthy, who doubled, and Brady Rogers and Clarkson who had a hit and a walk each. Alex Rogers took the loss, allowing two earned runs over seven innings … To see a slideshow of photos from the tournament, please click here … McCarthy and Dunbar were named to the BCPBL’s first all-conference team, while Andreychuk, Alex Rogers and Morgan were chosen second-team all-stars … Clarkson, Andreychuk and Skingle will get to keep playing ball this summer as part of Baseball B.C.’s provincial team.