Playoffs within reach

Whalley Chiefs discover winning ways in PBL season’s second half

Six weeks ago, it wasn’t difficult to dismiss the Whalley Chiefs as a contender for a playoff position in the B.C. Premier Baseball League (PBL).

The Chiefs completed the first half of the regular season in Kelowna June 2-3, losing all four games to the Okanagan Athletics to fall to 5-21 (won-lost).

But since that four-game set to a team currently in third place in the elite 18-and-under league, the Chiefs have been on a bit of a roll. They have won 11 of their last 17 games, and while at one time they were seven games behind the eighth-place North Shore Twins, the gap is now down to two and one-half in the race for the final PBL playoff position.

The Chiefs won three of four home games last weekend, then stopped the White Rock Tritons 1-0 at South Surrey Athletic Park Tuesday night to continue to challenge for a top-eight finish. Braeden Allemann singled to score Connor Rogers for the only run of the game in the third inning Tuesday. Yuta Kikuzaki pitched all seven innings for the win, walking two batters and allowing four hits while striking out six.

To start a busy weekend, the Chiefs split two games with the second-place Nanaimo Pirates Saturday afternoon at Whalley Stadium, then took both ends of a double header with the last-place Parksville Royals Sunday.

The Chiefs fell 7-2 to the Pirates in the first game Saturday, with seven Chiefs errors leading to four unearned runs.

The offence collected nine hits, with two each coming from Conner Prentice, Kyle McComb and Rogers. Prentice and Rogers each batted in a run.

The Chiefs scored four times in the bottom of the first inning and hung on for a 7-3 win in game two. They didn’t need a hit to score the first two runs, as two walks and an infield error put the first three batters on base.

Rogers and Garrett Hasner were credited with RBIs (runs batted in), each hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Alleman and Malcolm Upton followed with singled to score the other two runs.

The Pirates pulled to within 4-3 after five innings, but one frame later the Chiefs answered with three runs of their own. Allemann singled to score two runs, then crossed the plate himself on Upton’s double.

Roberto Bevacqua was the winning pitcher, throwing all seven innings and collected four strikeouts. All three runs allowed were unearned, coming on three hits, three walks and five Chiefs errors.

The Chiefs got another complete-game victory from their pitching staff in the first game against Parksville Sunday. Brad Fitzsimmons gave up one earned run on a walk and four hits in a 5-2 Whalley win.

Jordan McComb, Rogers and Hayden Malcolm had a double and two hits for the home team, with McComb driving in two runs and scoring another pair.

Whalley completed the sweep by erasing a 4-1 deficit after three innings, scoring four times in the fourth for a 5-4 victory.

Allemann started the scoring in the fourth inning with a two-run triple, then added the tying run on a single by Jordan McComb. McComb scored the winner on a double by Rogers.

Tyler Ang went four and one-third innings to get the win, with Upton earning the save. Ang allowed four runs (two earned) on a walk and six hits, while Upton gave up only a single in two and two-thirds innings.

The Chiefs have four games remaining on the schedule. They travel to the provincial capital next weekend. They play a double header against the Victoria Mariners (28-14) Saturday, then close the season by playing two games with the 19-25 Victoria Eagles Sunday.

Surrey North Delta Leader