The premier Pirates are still in a pennant race, but at the same time, they can’t help but think about the playoffs.
The Nanaimo Hub City Paving Pirates know they have just a couple of weeks now to be ready for one of the biggest baseball tournaments ever to come to Serauxmen Stadium.
“It’s going to be a big deal,” said Ben Dunbar, Pirates catcher. “Hopefully there’s going to be a lot of fans out so we can showcase for years to come that Pirates baseball’s a good thing to watch.”
In past years, the B.C. Premier Baseball League’s final tournament has been a four-team playoff. This year, the Pirates lobbied to change the rules so that if the Pirates fail to reach the final four on their own merit, they get a host berth in a five-team tourney.
“We pushed pretty hard for it,” said Doug Rogers. “Although it seems selfish that we have it in the first year, we want this to happen for all [host] teams.”
So fans get a home team to root for, and there should be some intense games to keep those fans on the edge of their seats.
By that time, most of the league’s 13 teams will have been eliminated, leaving only championship-calibre clubs.
“The teams are going to throw everything they’ve got at us. The best pitchers, the best hitters…” Dunbar said. “We play a 48-game season and it comes down to one or two games. So we’ve got to be playing our best at that time to do well.”
The junior and peewee Pirates both hosted major tournaments last summer, bringing sports tourism dollars to the Harbour City. This August will see more of the same, plus an even higher calibre of ball.
“Nanaimo is a baseball town, it really is,” said Rogers. “And it just takes some good baseball and some good weather to bring [spectators] out, and the right atmosphere at the ballpark. We have all that.”
Plus a contending team, and a sportsmanlike team, to cheer for.
“There’s not a lot of the BS that goes on with other teams. The swearing, the gear throwing,” Rogers said. “We really pride ourselves on doing things right, being professional on the field. The kids are good ambassadors.”
GAME ON … The Pirates host premier league provincials Aug. 3-5 at Serauxmen Stadium. The club is looking for volunteers to help with tasks such as ticket taking and souvenir and 50/50 sales. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-714-6140.