Parksville’s Quality Foods Royals bagged themselves tasty back-to-back sweeps over the weekend, dumping the Mariners 4-1, 4-2 in Victoria on Saturday, then clubbing the Fraser Valley Chiefs by identical 6-0 scores at home on Sunday.
The four wins lifts the Royals to 19-12 on the season; one game back of the Mariners and five back of the first place Nanaimo Pirates with 17 games reaming in the 48-game regular season
Mitch Powelson and Brian Pawlina picked up the wins on the hill for the Royals in Victoria. And in the most anticipated match-ups of the weekend, Royals’ ace Clayton Isherwood out-duelled Chiefs ace Ty Walker in game one in a battle of lefties Sunday. Walker, a fireballer in Gr. 12, leads the BCPBL in strikeouts and went into the game with 71 Ks in 53 innings pitched. ‘Ish’ went into the game with 44 Ks in 31 innings. Marcus Drewry made it a clean sweep with the win in game four.
Isherwood, said Royals coach Dave Wallace, “is one of the premiere pitchers in the league; he’s just a dominant force every time he goes out on the mound. He gives the entire team confidence because he’s so consistent.”
In Victoria, the Royals’ out-hit the Ms 10-3 and generated a run in each of the first four innings. Powelson pitched six innings, giving up one earned run and striking out three. Josh Croft came in, in the seventh inning to nail down the win.
Pawlina, a righty from Comox, had another terrific outing in game two and continued his outstanding run in the last month, giving up four hits, one earned run and ringing up eight Mariner batters. Croft came in, in the seventh in that game as well.
Back in P-ville Sunday, Isherwood pitched a complete game two-hitter, striking out eight Chiefs and walking one to lower his league-leading ERA to a minuscule 0.72.
“Anything below one is outstanding, so you figure out how good that is,” Wallace said.
“He’s a lot of fun to watch,” one of the Royals’ faithful said between bites of his hot dog Saturday, adding, “this whole team … they’re a special bunch, and I’m not sure people (local fans of the game) know what they’re missing.”
Beyond Isherwood, the storyline in that game saw the Royals outhit the Chiefs 10-2. The Royals’ batters were a stubborn bunch against Walker as they pushed his pitch count up into the stratosphere. Isherwood threw 76 pitches in game one, of which 54 were strikes. Walker, who is off to play college ball south of the border, was 125-75.
Walker, said Wallace, “is a good pitcher and we got the better of him on Sunday. We made him throw a lot of pitches and that’s key. We don’t let our pitchers go much past 100 pitches (in a game), that’s just our philosophy.”
As expected, the hits were hard to come by in the early going and the two teams played through three scoreless innings.
The pinstripes grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, and the Royals generated three runs in the bottom of the fifth and two more in the sixthm, which was all Ish needed.
Senior stalwart Kevin Biro from Deep Bay carried the team on his back. Rock solid at third base, Biro, who is first in the league in hitting at .416, went 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored. Qualicum Beach senior Matt Ney, equally as solid at first, batted .400. Patient at the plate and tough on the pitcher, Ney walked twice and drove in an RBI in his other at-bat.
Catcher Mackenzie Parlow ripped a two-out bases loaded single to drive in two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Pressed into service as the starting catcher, Parlow has certainly stepped up to the plate.
“He drove in seven runs on the weekend to lead the team in RBIs,” said Wallace, adding, “he battles all the time, and he’s been getting clutch this at crucial times, and the fact he’s catching our pitching staff — he started the year as a back up and taken over the role, catching every inning of every game in the last six weeks, which takes some mental and physical toughness to do that. He’s a big part of our success.”
The pinstripes picked up where they left off in game two; jumping out to a 2-0 first inning lead, and adding four more runs for the win.
The Royals outhit the Chiefs 13-6 in that one.
Biro and Ney led the hitting and Josh Croft cashed in two base-runners.
Biro leads the also leads the BCPBL in slugging percentage at .652, and on-base percentage at .523, “which means he gets on base just over 52 per cent of the time he’s at bat.”
As a team the Royals are tied for fourth with Nanaimo in batting average at .256.
“Four solid games. That’s our most consistent performance for a weekend all year, easily,” said Wallace.
The pinstripes are in Abbotsford on Friday to play the Cardinals, and return home to Inouye/Wallace Field on Saturday for a two game set against the second place Langley Blaze. On Saturday, July 2, the Royals take to home field in their Canada Day reds for a big double header against the Pirates.