Chiefs, Jays fall short of postseason

Jacob Robazza of the Whalley Chiefs led the PBL in batting this season with a .434 average.  - BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER
Jacob Robazza of the Whalley Chiefs led the PBL in batting this season with a .434 average.
— image credit: BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER

The B.C. Premier Baseball League will stage its playoff round next weekend, and the North Delta Blue Jays and Whalley Chiefs won’t be among the eight teams participating.

Neither team managed to crack the top eight in the regular season standings, although the Chiefs will still have some baseball to play.

While North Delta’s season has ended, the Chiefs will host the championship tournament at Whalley Stadium Aug. 1-4. The four winners of next weekend’s best-of-three playoff series among the top eight teams will advance to the tournament, along with the Chiefs as the host team.

Whalley played its last games of the regular season last weekend, hosting the last-place Parksville Royals Sunday afternoon at Whalley Stadium.

The Chiefs won the first game 11-6, but dropped the second 6-5 to finish the season in 10th place at 18-30 (won-lost), two games out of a playoff position.

Knowing they were already out of playoff contention before play began Sunday, the Chiefs did their best to get a sweep.

In the first game, Whalley scored six times in the second inning for a 6-1 lead, only to have the Royals tie the score by the end of the fifth. Batting in the bottom of the sixth, the Chiefs added another five runs.

Thomas Espig provided most of the offense in the second inning, driving in three runs with a bases-loaded single then scoring on a triple from Jacob Robazza, who finished the season with a league-best .434 batting average.

Spencer Rankin had the big hit of the sixth, a two-run single. He later scored on an error.

In the second game, the Chiefs fell behind early 4-0 before cutting the difference to one run late in the game. In the seventh, the Chiefs had the tying run thrown out at the plate for the game-ending out.

Lucas Soper was the offensive leader with a double and two RBIs.

The Blue Jays hosted the Nanaimo Pirates for a double header Saturday at Mackie Park, and like the Chiefs, knew they were’t going to make the playoffs. The Pirates knew they still had a chance to climb into eighth place with a sweep, and by collecting 25 hits in the two games, they scored 29 runs in a pair of victories.

The Blue Jays fell behind early in the first game, as Nanaimo crossed the plate three times in the second inning and added another run in the third. The Pirates carried a 6-2 advantage in the final inning, putting the game well out of reach with seven runs in the top half of the seventh for a 13-5 victory.

Frank Hurt Secondary student Matt Gillen and Evan Rogers each had a pair of hits for the Jays, Gillen also driving in three runs and scoring once.

Nanaimo continued to take advantage of Jays’ pitching in the second game with a dozen hits to go with nine walks. The Pirates led 6-1 after batting in the top of the third inning, but North Delta came back to tie the game with five runs in the bottom half.

The Pirates responded with a seven-run fourth inning and never looked back in a 16-6 triumph.

Tyler Hoefer had two of North Delta’s total of four hits, driving in a pair of runs.

The Jays managed a split of two makeup games against the Vancouver Cannons Tuesday night at Mackie Park. Originally scheduled for Sunday, the doubleheader saw the Cannons win the first game 7-0 with the Jays taking the second 5-3.

North Delta was held to just three hits in the opening contest, with Brock Morgan accounting for two of them with a single and a double.

In the second contest, a three-run third inning by North Delta proved to be the difference.

Tyler Hoefer was two-for-two, and Nathan Unrau drove in two runs for the Blue Jays.

North Delta, at 16-31, still has one game to play. They visit the North Shore Twins Thursday night in another makeup game.

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