Parksville’s Quality Foods Royals captured lightning in the bat last weekend and made team history by becoming the first local squad to win the BC’s Best Baseball Classic in the tourney’s 17-year history.
The local PBL team lost 7-1 to the Okanagan A’s in their tournament opener last Friday, but this is no ordinary Royals’ team. They answered with five straight wins.
This is the third or fourth time they’ve made the semifinals but first time winning it all. It was the first all-Island final in tournament history.
“I was real pleased for the kids,” Royals’ skipper Dave Wallace said. “They deserved it, and it helps them learn a bit more how to compete in meaningful games.”
In their five-game run the Royals out-scored the opposition, 36-9.
The Royals set the tone Saturday morning when they bounced back with one of their best games of the season and dumped the defending tournament champion Okotoks Dawgs, 4-0.
On Sunday they clobbered the North Delta Blue Jays 11-1, and doubled up the Strathmore Reds 8-4.
On Monday they beat the Victoria Mariners 6-4, then knocked the hide off the ball and blasted the Nanaimo Pirates 13-4 in the gold medal game that afternoon.
On hand to hand out the gold and silver medals afterwards was Lowell Hodges, former longtime MLB scout out of Sidney and one of the founding board members of the Island Premier Baseball League — precursor to the BCPBL comprised of Parksville, Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley and two Victoria teams back in 1995.
Pitching highlights there were lots of. Crafty righty Marcus Drewry picked up the win against North Delta and tossed a complete game two-hitter.
Big southpaw Giles Virgin, 18, from Saskatchewan pitched was outstanding for the pinstripes as well.
Keeping the walks down — the Royals lead the league in fewest walks allowed — is something longtime dedicated pitching coach Jim Seredick has concentrated on this year.
The Royals pitching staff walked only 15 batters over 40 defensive innings during the Classic.
“The whole team, Matt Ney, Kevin Biro and Josh Croft, they’re our leaders and they had an outstanding weekend, and so did four our five other guys the hitting right through our lineup was consistent,” said Wallace.
Ney and Croft both belted homers. Croft also pitched one inning in each of the last two games, picking up the save in the seminal against Victoria.
Biro finished the tourney hitting .550 with three doubles, a triple, and a stolen base. Ney hit .400 with a tie-breaking, two-run home run in the semi-final game against Victoria. Giles threw eight no-hit innings with nine strike-outs. Rookie catcher Mackenzie Parlow called every pitch and caught all 40 innings.
The Royals went into the tournament riding a four-game league win streak and resume league play on the Mainland this weekend with double headers against North Delta on Saturday and the North Shore Twins on Sunday.