Chiefs, Tritons post opening day wins

SURREY — The Whalley Chiefs and the White Rock Tritons both earned splits of their opening day doubleheaders in B.C. Premier Baseball League action last weekend.

In Whalley Saturday, the Chiefs began the regular season missing two starters who were playing with the North Shore Twins at a tournament in Las Vegas. Despite the absences, the Chiefs topped the Vancouver Cannons 4-3 in their curtain raiser before falling 4-2 in 10 innings in the second game of the day.

“Overall we competed extremely well and our pitching in both games was really, really good,” said Whalley assistant coach Randy Ellrich. “We kept the ball in the yard with a lot of fly balls and ground outs so that was a real positive. Our kids had a lot of strikeouts and that’s something we’re going to have to work on, but it’s early. We stayed in the games because of our pitching and it was a good effort all the way around.”

In the opener, the Cannons punched in three runs in the second to take a commanding lead only to have the Chiefs rally and make a game of it. Whalley scored once in the fourth and then tied the contest with two more in the sixth before completing the comeback with a walk-off single by Travis Leclair that brought Jordan Deshane home from third base.

Max Williams started the game on the hill for the Chiefs and pitched four innings before giving way to Andrew Callegari, who picked up the win in relief.

The second game of the day turned into a marathon as the two teams needed 10 innings before the Cannons could escape Whalley Ballpark with a 4-2 win.

The two teams took turns scoring single runs over the first innings of play before the bats cooled off significantly in the sixth inning with the score knotted at 2-2. The score stayed that way for another four innings before the Cannons finally settled the matter with two unanswered runs to pull out the 4-2 win.

“It was a good game but it was a long day,” Ellrich said. “We got to the park at 9 a.m. and the next thing you know it’s 6 p.m. and everybody is just dragging by that point. It was to the point where we were all thinking, ‘Come on, somebody hit something so we can get going.’

“It was kind of back-and-forth early, but then we didn’t get a lot of hits from the sixth inning on. We couldn’t cash in runs and then they got a couple of hits in the top of the 10th and scored their runs. They’re a senior team loaded with Grade 12s, but our kids hung in there with them all day.”

Jacob Robazza started the game on the bump for Whalley and lasted four innings before Chris DiFabio came in to pitch the next four. Nick Vellios took over in the ninth inning and allowed three hits in two innings of work before being tagged with the loss.

Kimiya Matsuo enjoyed an outstanding day patrolling centre field, collecting 11 put outs in the two games.

“We’re really happy with our start and we really think we could have taken both games,” Ellrich said. “That would have been a big bonus for us, but just being able to compete and have a good showing against a good team was a good way to start the season. Two games does not a season make, but it is a start in the right direction.”

Meanwhile in Kelowna, the White Rock Tritons earned an opening day split with the Okanagan Athletics on Saturday, but left town with a sour taste after dropping both ends of a Sunday doubleheader.

Runs were easy to come by for both teams Saturday as they combined to score 29 times in the two games. The A’s took the opener 6-5 in eight innings only to have the Tritons bounce back with a 10-8 win in Game 2.

Tom Melenchuk led the Tritons at the plate in the first game with a triple, two RBIs and a stolen base.

The second game of the day was a pitcher’s nightmare as the two teams combined for 17 hits and 18 runs before the Tritons emerged with a 10-8 win.

After opening the scoring with a single run in the first inning, the Tritons punched in three runs in each of the next three innings, but only led 10-7 thanks to a six-run outburst by the A’s in the top of the third. White Rock’s pitching took over after that, holding the A’s to a single run over the final three innings.

Anthony Aiello earned the win on the mound for White Rock.

Sunday was forgettable for the Tritons as they were hammered 12-5 in the first game before closing out the set with a 5-1 loss.

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