Parksville Royals second baseman Kieran Bowles snags the ball and gets ready to tag a sliding Victoria Mariner during the opening of their BCPBL playoff series at Springwood Park on Saturday. — Michael Briones photo

Royals, Mariners in do-or-die battle today

After pulling off a stunning 6-3 win in the first game, the Parksville Royals weren’t able to sweep their best-of-three BC Premier Baseball League playoff series against Victoria Mariners when they lost 3-0 in the second game on Saturday

The deciding game three will be played today, at Springwood Park at 12 noon. It’s do or die for both teams whose season series against each other are even at 2-2. They did it again in the playoffs, splitting the series 1-1.

The highlight of Saturday’s duel was Shane Rogers’ crucial home run for the Royals with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eight in the first game.

The score was tied 2-2 going into the eighth. It was the Mariners that surged ahead when Dylan Price opened with a solo blast out of the park to give Victoria a slim 3-2 lead. Royals pitcher Nicholas Yu, despite surrendering a heartbreaking homerun, kept his composure and with the help of his teammates got the next three batters out to keep Parksville within striking distance.

In the bottom of the eighth, with one out, Nolan Baker struck a single and advanced to third when Spencer Walton hit a timely ground rule double. Kiran Carcary loaded the bases when he was intentionally walked.

The Royals even things up when Cam MacNeil got a free pass to first base to bring home Baker for the tying run. With the bases still loaded, Rogers crushed one over the fence and had the local crowd celebrating what appeared to be a grand slam. But it was taken away when Mariners coach protested that Carcary failed to touch third base heading to the home plate. Carcary was called out.

“We were lucky that there was only one out. If there was two outs, we would have been in trouble there,” said coach Jorhn “Frankie” Kaluzniak.

In the second game, the Royals faced Flynn Chester, who has an 1.18 era and had five wins and one loss during the regular season. The Royals weren’t able to figure Chester out and got shut out 3-0.

“He [Chester] has been good all year,” said Kalzuniak. “We need to make a few adjustments later in the game when he’s throwing quite a few fastballs and jump on them when we can.”

For Sunday’s playoff tiebreaker, the Royals will start Grade 11 player Josh Laukkanen on the mound. He was 5-4 in the regular season with a 2.75 era.

“When we needed a guy, he is the one we go to and I am expecting him to give us a chance to win,” said Kalzuniak. “I am hoping to get a few extra bounces our way.”

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