Mid Island Pirates including Marcus Steen, Connor Caskenette, Wyatt Dorman and Odhan Manhas celebrate after the team’s pennant-clinching win against the UBC Thunder on Wednesday at Serauxmen Stadium. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Pirates win the pennant

Mid Island Pirates sweep UBC Thunder to claim BCPBL regular-season title

No matter what happens in the playoffs, the Pirates will take away a prize from the 2019 season.

The Mid Island Pirates (38-10) won the pennant today as the B.C. Premier Baseball League team with the best regular-season record.

The Hub City Paving Pirates needed to win just one of two games against the UBC Thunder, but won both for good measure, clinching the pennant with a 2-1 win and then closing out the regular season with a 16-2 blowout.

Josh Hill, winning pitcher in the early game, said it was “pretty big” for the Pirates to win the BCPBL title and something that they wanted.

“It really pushed us and we went for it,” he said. “It means a lot to us. We’ve been here for three years and we’ve fought for it, but this year we finally had the team that could do it.”

The Pirates clinched the pennant in dramatic fashion, as they trailed the early game 1-0, but in the bottom of the sixth inning tied the game and then pushed across a go-ahead run when Ryan Waatainen’s squeeze bunt scored Marcus Steen. The Pirates won it in the top of the seventh as Hill struck out the Thunder’s final batter.

“It was a big game and they were tentative, you could tell they were nervous…” said Doug Rogers, Pirates manager. “We made a couple mistakes, they scored a run and then the pressure was on, but in typical Pirates fashion we battled back.”

The last time the Pirates won the pennant was 2011, when they went 34-14. The 2019 Pirates established a new franchise record for wins, surpassing the 2012 Pirates who went 36-12.

“Back a week ago when we had eight games left, we knew we had to go at least 7-1 and we ended up going 8-0,” Rogers said. “They can surprise me. I’m pretty happy and proud of the kids.”

Waatainen said the regular-season title was in some ways a main focus for the team.

“We did the biggest goal, I think, which was the best record in 48 games, but we still look to win the championship,” he said.

Even for a No. 1 seed, the path won’t be easy – Mid Island is matched up against the Victoria Eagles in Round 1, who tend to play the Pirates close. Rogers said the Eagles have some hard-throwers, but said the Pirates swing the bat well against pitchers with high velocity.

“They’ve got some good pitching and a good lineup, so it’ll be a good series…” said Waatainen. “It’s not our favourite of who we’d like to [face], but we can still get ’em.”

In Wednesday’s early game, Hill threw 2 1/3 innings for the win and Aaron Marsh had two hits. In the blowout win, Wyatt Dorman was 3-for-3 with five RBIs, Connor Caskenette was 3-for-4, Hill was 2-for-3 with four RBIs, Jackson Stephen had three RBIs and Dylan Brock went 2-for-2. Waatainen threw three innings for the win.

Waatainen and Brock ended the season tied for most wins in the premier league with nine apiece. Caskenette finished first in the league in RBIs with 45. Marsh led the team in batting with a .391 average.

GAME ON … The Pirates and Eagles play Saturday, July 27, at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at Serauxmen Stadium. Game 3 of the series, if necessary, would be Sunday at 1 p.m., also at Serauxmen Stadium. Admission is free.

RELATED: Pirates have a chance to win pennant



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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