The Whalley Chiefs and North Delta Blue Jays share more than an identical win-loss record going into the B.C. Premier Baseball League (PBL) playoffs.
Both will be heading to Vancouver Island for their respective best-of-three playoff series, each having won just one of four regular season games against their postseason opponents but hoping their strong pitching staff can shut down the league’s two best groups of batters.
The Chiefs will be on the road this weekend to play the Nanaimo Pirates, a team which led the PBL in team batting with a .308 average and a slugging percentage of .413.
The Victoria Eagles, ranked second in team batting with a .301 average, will host the North Delta Blue Jays. The Eagles are the league-leaders in on-base percentage at .414 and stolen bases at 132. Their 11 home runs is second among the 12 PBL teams.
North Delta sits in the middle of the pack with a .276 batting average as a team, but boasts the league’s top batter in Mackenzie Marquis, who finished the year at an even .400.
Both series will start with two games Saturday. Should each team win once, a third and deciding game will be played Sunday.
The Chiefs and North Delta both went 21-23 in regular season play, tying for sixth place in the league standings. Both teams fell short of a playoff position last season.
The Jays will have the slightly tougher task in the playoffs against a 31-13 Eagles team. Victoria swept regular season games by scores of 5-4 and 11-1 April 26 in the provincial capital. The two sides split a double header in North Delta June 20, with the Jays winning the first game 2-0 and the Eagles prevailing in the second 6-0.
The Jays strength is their pitching staff, which was ranked third in the league with a 3.31 ERA (earned run average). Daniel Gosselin was second in the league with 84 strikeouts, and was ranked seventh in ERA at 1.78.
Despite finishing in the middle of the pack in the regular season standings, the Chiefs ranked in the top five in both batting and pitching.
Whalley is ranked fourth in the PBL with a .293 batting average. Thomas Espig is their top batter with a .376 average, sixth-best in the league.
The Chiefs’ pitching is fifth-best with a 3.43 ERA. They boast a pair of pitchers among the top five in ERA, with Espig ranked third at 1.43 and Kyle Stubbins fifth at 1.60.
Whalley split two games with the Pirates in Whalley on May 2, with the Chiefs winning the first game 5-3 before Nanaimo won the second 3-1.
The Pirates swept the Chiefs 8-2 and 13-3 in a doubleheader on June 7 in Nanaimo.