Sports

Top-seed Blaze sink Pirates’ season; off to championships

Members of the Langley Blaze celebrate their 11-1 victory over the Nanaimo Pirates on Sunday at McLeod Park. The win advances Langley to the B.C. Premier U18 Premier Baseball League provincial championships. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Members of the Langley Blaze celebrate their 11-1 victory over the Nanaimo Pirates on Sunday at McLeod Park. The win advances Langley to the B.C. Premier U18 Premier Baseball League provincial championships.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

With the season on the line, Ryan Braun pitched a two-hitter as the Langley Blaze advanced to the provincial championships.

The Blaze defeated the Nanaimo Pirates 11-1 on Sunday afternoon at McLeod Park in game three of the teams’ quarter-final playoff series.

On Saturday, Langley had won game one 7-1 while Nanaimo stayed alive with a 3-2 victory.

In the deciding game, Langley scored twice in the second and then five more times in the third to break open the game. They tacked on four runs in the fifth.

Mitchell Robinson hit a solo home run while Mason Verge had an RBI triple.

Kyle McComb chipped in with three hits and a pair of RBIs.

The Blaze took advantage of four Nanaimo errors to score seven unearned runs.

The key was quality at-bats, said Langley coach Jamie Bodaly.

“Anytime you can get six or more pitches in an at-bat, it is good,” he said, adding that the team’s game plan was to extend the Pirates hurlers pitch counts.

In the opener, Kyle Ross allowed a single run in the complete game victory.

Dakota Curry led the way with a home run and two RBIs. Luke Horanski and Liam Wyatt also drove in a pair of runs.

The Blaze were up 2-0 and six outs away from completing the sweep in game two before Nanaimo scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to escape with the 3-2 victory.

McComb and Andre Pelletier had the Langley RBIs while Jonathan Keltie took the loss with three earned runs surrendered in five innings.

With Sunday’s win, the Blaze — who won the BCPBL U18 regular season title for a third year in a row with a record of 35-12 — advance to this weekend’s provincial championships.

The tournament features the Blaze, Victoria Mariners (34-14), North Shore Twins (32-12), Vancouver Cannons (26-22) and the Whalley Chiefs (18-30).

The Chiefs qualified as the host team while the other four had to win their respective best-of-three series over the weekend.

The championships run from Aug. 1 to 4 at Whalley Stadium.

“I like our chances,” Bodaly said. “Good pitching beats good hitting and pitching is our strength.”

He also added that the team is finally relatively healthy after battling injuries the past eight weeks.

The five teams will play a round-robin schedule over the first three days. The top team advances straight to Monday afternoon’s championship final while the second and third-place teams will square off in a semifinal game on Monday morning.

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