The Nanaimo Hub City Paving Pirates had a rough start to the pre-season, but immediately righted the ship.
The city’s B.C. Premier Baseball League team lost 9-5 to the Victoria Mariners on Saturday, but swept a doubleheader against the Parksville Royals the next day, 2-0 and 4-3. All games were played at Serauxmen Stadium.
It was the first BCPBL pre-season action for the Pirates upon their return from 12 days of spring training in Tucson, Ariz.
“After playing the kind of quality teams that we played down there, they came back and figured they could basically throw their gloves on the field and waltz through games,” said Doug Rogers, Pirates coach.
But the defending-champion Mariners played to win. Mike Williams pitched well for the Pirates but his teammates booted the ball around behind him.
“It was good, actually, that we lost,” Rogers said. “It doesn’t mean anything but it sends a message.”
And the Pirates got the message, the manager said.
“They came out Sunday and played much better. It was a marked improvement.”
In the second game, Brendan McCarthy capped off a good weekend at the plate with what his team believed to be a game-winning walk-off double, but it was called foul. The next batter, Cody Andreychuk, came through with a walk-off double of his own.
“It was justice,” Rogers said.
“It was a lean day as far as any hitting went, but the defence was sound and the pitching was good so I was happy.”
Some of the other pitchers who threw well on the weekend were Kenton Schroter, Al Rogers, Colby Morgan and Nick Smiley.
The Pirates finish up the pre-season this Sunday (April 3) on the Lower Mainland with a tripleheader against the North Shore Twins, the Vancouver Cannons and the Coquitlam Reds in Coquitlam.
Rogers likes the idea of having 21 innings to share amongst his guys. It’s one last chance for them to show they deserve to be in the starting nine on opening day the following weekend.
“They need to show that in their practice and in their exhibition games,” the manager said. “There’s movement in the starting nine and I want them to know that so they compete for it.”
GAME ON … The Pirates begin the B.C. Premier Baseball League season April 9 on the road against the Victoria Eagles. The team’s home openers aren’t until April 24 when the Eagles visit Serauxmen Stadium for games at noon and 2:30 p.m.