The Whalley Chiefs played their first home game of the B.C. Premier Baseball League (PBL) season Tuesday night at Whalley Stadium,
After dropping three of four games on the road to the Okanagan Athletics of Kelowna last weekend to start the season, the Chiefs continued to struggle with a 6-1 loss to the Abbotsford Cardinals.
The score wasn’t indicative of the game, as the Chiefs led for much of the contest, with starting pitcher Lucas Soper shutting down the Athletics for five innings. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit and gave up just two walks with three strikeouts. He left the game in the fifth inning after the first two Abbotsford batters got on base with a single and a walk.
The Cards added another couple of hits, including a two-run double, to go ahead 3-1 after six innings.
In the seventh, the first three Cardinals batters got on base via an error, a batter hit by a pitch and a single. The base hit scored one runner, a pair of infield outs allowed the other two to score.
The Chiefs got their run in the bottom of the first inning after Lichel Hirakawa-Kao hit a lead-off single, then scoring on a base hit by Soper.
Whalley batters managed another four hits and three walks over the next six innings, but couldn’t add to their run total.
Hirakawa-Kao was two-for-three at the plate, raising his season batting average to .500 very early in the PBL season. Thomas Espig was three-for-four with a double.
The Chiefs will visit the North Delta Blue Jays for a pair of games Saturday at Mackie Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.
North Delta has yet to play a regular season game, and will have several members of last year’s B.C. Junior Premier Baseball League champions in their lineup.
Left-handed pitcher Daniel Gosselin led the Junior Blue Jays and the entire league with 100 strikeouts and a a 0.62 earned run average a year ago. He also pitched 14 innings in the PBL in three appearances.
Also playing in the PBL with North Delta this season is Alex Davis. He hit .393 with the Junior Jays last season, fifth-best in the Junior league.