Bring on the Blaze.
Parksville’s Quality Foods Royals will make team history this weekend when they take to the field up at Springwood Park as hosts of a first round best-of-three baseball playoff series against the Langley Blaze.
Win or lose, this year’s squad has set a high water mark for the team, having gone where no other Royals team has gone before — including winning the BC’s Best Baseball Classic for the first time in the club’s 17-year history.
Langley finished the 48-game regular season at 25-23, sixth in the 13-team league and riding a seven game win streak — 8-2 in their last 10 games.
The Royals went 4-1 in their final five regular season games and closed it out on the mainland Tuesday, clipping the North Delta Blue Jays 2-1, then splitting their double header against the Vancouver Cannons. They lost game one 4-1 and closed out league play with a solid 5-3 win to finish with a club-best 28-20 for third overall in the high performance league. The Royals went 11-37 in 2009, and improved to 18-26 in 2010 (fewer games, one less team in the league), but missed the playoffs for the third straight year.
The Nanaimo Pirates finished top of the heap this year at 34-14 with the Coquitlam Reds right behind at 32-16.
Game one of the opening round series slated for Springwood Park goes Saturday at 12:15 p.m., and game two starts at 3 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, goes Sunday at 11 a.m. Win the best of three and the Royals will advance to the final four and earn the right to play at Nat Bailey Stadium.
Royals’ ace Clayton Isherwood (6-0, ERA 0.79) will start game one. Home-grown hard-throwing righty Mitch Powelson (6-4, 1.94 ERA) gets the rawhide in game two. Bryan Pawlina (5-3, 1.47 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday if need be.
The Royals were 1-3 head-to-head against the Blaze during the regular season, and Parksville skipper Dave Wallace says his squad is chomping at the bit and looking to keep their season alive.
“Absolutely. The guys are playing very well right now, and if we play with the same consistency we’ve played with all year, we can competed with any team in the league,” Wallace said.