Lachlan Hunter of the Whalley Chiefs had a game-winning hit Saturday against the Victoria Mariners.

Closing in on the playoffs

Whalley Chiefs move into sixth place in Premier Baseball League

The Whalley Chiefs are closing in on a B.C. Premier Baseball League playoff position.

The Chiefs won two of three games last week, lowering their magic number to five. Any combination of victories by the Chiefs and losses by either the Victoria Mariners or Abbotsford Cardinals totaling five will clinch a place in the postseason for Whalley.

The Chiefs began last week’s three-game stretch with a 1-0 victory Thursday (June 25) over the North Delta Blue Jays at Whalley Stadium.

Thomas Espig got the shutout victory after pitching all seven innings, holding the Blue Jays to four singles and three walks while striking out nine batters. The 18-year-old left-hander lowered his earned run average to 1.28, third-best in the league.

Whalley scored the game’s only run in the third inning, when Ken Dubois got on base on a North Delta error, then scored from third base on an infield out.

The Chiefs hosted the Victoria Mariners for a double header Saturday, winning one of the two games.

The loss came in the first game, a 6-3 setback that saw the Mariners rally from a three-run deficit over the final three innings. Three errors by the home team led to five unearned runs by Victoria.

Lichel Hirakawa-Kao led the Chiefs offense with two doubles, a single, a stolen base and two runs scored.

It was the Chiefs coming from behind for an 8-7 win in the second game. Victoria led 4-0 early, but trailed 6-5 going into the seventh inning. The Mariners scored twice to take a one-run lead, only to give up two runs in the bottom half of the final frame.

Lachlan Hunter hit a bases-loaded single with one out to score two runs and end the game.

Espig was three-for-three with a double and two RBIs, with Ryan Kaplanis and Hirakawa-Kao each contributing a single and a double.

Now at 19-18 (won-lost) on the season with seven games remaining, the Chiefs don’t play again until next Thursday, July 9, at home against North Delta.

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