The Nanaimo Pirates kept pressing and pushed their way into the playoffs.
The Hub City Paving Pirates defeated the Abbotsford Cardinals 7-6 on Tuesday in Whalley to grab the eighth playoff berth in the B.C. Premier Baseball League.
“It was intense, it was a close ballgame all the way through, there was ebbs and flow throughout the game…” said Doug Rogers, Pirates manager. “[The Cardinals] made it tough. We were fortunate to get through.”
A turning point came with the score tied 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Cards had the bases loaded and Abby’s Nick LaFlamme hit a shot to the gap that Pirates centre fielder Zach Diewert somehow tracked down in a “catch of the year” effort, said the manager.
“Wow,” Rogers exclaimed. “He ran it down and fully extended to catch it glove side. If that ball falls in, they’re up 8-5, that probably seals the deal.”
Instead, the Pirates pushed across two runs in the seventh and held on.
The Pirates piled up 14 hits in their do-or-die game Tuesday. Josh Burgmann earned the win, throwing 4 1/3 innings of relief and was 3-for-4 at the plate. Diewert and Chris Vlaj were both 3-for-5 and Tristan Olsen had a single and a double.
The win means a first-round matchup against either the Langley Blaze or the North Shore Twins. The Pirates recognize those two teams are the powerhouses of the league, but Nanaimo knows that upsets can happen. The Pirates will be more rested than whichever team they take on and Burgmann and Garrett Goodall should be available by the weekend after both guys threw a lot of pitches Tuesday.
Rogers said his team is playing with confidence and deserves the late-season success it’s had.
“You do the right things, usually good things happen to you and they have this year,” said Rogers.
GAME ON … The premier Pirates play their best-of-three playoff series on the road Saturday (July 26) and Sunday at either Langley or North Vancouver.