Sports

Gaining ground in PBL playoff chase

Lichel Hirakawa-Kao of the Whalley Chiefs makes it to first base while Victoria Eagles first baseman Kieran Waters fields the throw during a BC Premier Baseball League game Sunday at Whalley Stadium. - BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER
Lichel Hirakawa-Kao of the Whalley Chiefs makes it to first base while Victoria Eagles first baseman Kieran Waters fields the throw during a BC Premier Baseball League game Sunday at Whalley Stadium.
— image credit: BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER

Their season is still two games shy of the midway point, but the Whalley Chiefs have pulled themselves back into the race for a playoff position.

The B.C. Premier Baseball League (PBL) team won three of four games against competition from Vancouver Island last weekend at Whalley Stadium, and are now just 1.5 games out of eighth place in the 13-team elite under-18 circuit.

The Chiefs defeated the Nanaimo  Pirates twice on Saturday, then split two games with the Victoria Mariners Sunday afternoon to improve to 8-14 (won-lost) on the season. Whalley is in ninth place, trailing the 9-12 Abbotsford Cardinals.

The Chiefs swept the Pirates by scores of 3-2 and 3-0.

Whalley stole the first game, scoring all three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Thomas Espig started the rally with a one-out double, scoring when Braeden Massignani singled. Kimiya Matsuo had a base hit to put two runners on base, then singles from Cole Hunt and Lucas Soper brought home the tying and winning runs.

Soper finished the game three-for-four with a double, while Espig had a pair of hits in three at-bats.

Max Williams was the winning pitcher, throwing all seven innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits and a pair of walks while collecting seven strikeouts.

Hunt earned a victory in game two, going the distance for the shutout victory. He gave up just four hits and a walk with four strikeouts.

All three Chiefs runs came in the bottom of the first inning and were unearned. A double by Soper scored Espig for the game’s first run, then Soper was sent home on Jordan Deshane’s double. Kevin Carboneau then singled to score Deshane.

The lone loss of the weekend was in Sunday’s first game against the Eagles, a 4-2 loss in which Victoria scored twice late in the game.

The Chiefs led 2-0 after one inning, but failed to add to the total on five hits over the final six innings.

The Chiefs again scored twice in the opening inning of game two, and added four more in the second and went on to a 6-3 win. Jacob Robazza was two-for-three with a double, one run scored and four runs batted in (RBI), with Lichel Hirakawa-Kao adding two singles and a pair of runs scored.

Espig was the winning pitcher, throwing six innings and allowing two unearned runs on two hits and a pair of walks.

The Chiefs are in Abbotsford tonight for a game with the Cardinals, before traveling to Vancouver Island for double headers Saturday in Nanaimo against the 5-16 Pirates and Sunday against the 6-13 Parksville Royals.

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