After taking a turn as the hitting hero for the Parksville Royals, it took Jayden Marsh an inning to get back into a groove in his primary job for the B.C. Premier Baseball League team — holding down the other team’s hitters.
Marsh wriggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the fourth inning and went on to a complete-game victory as the Royals topped the Langley Blaze 5-2 on the opening day of the Royals’ 2017 league season at Springwood Park Sunday.
The Blaze (5-2) took advantage of some early defensive jitters from the Royals to post a 4-0 win in the opening game.
With the Royals (1-1) trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning of the nightcap, Marsh came to the plate with two out and runners on second and third. He promptly laced an opposite-field single to drive in Thomas Leaf, who had drawn a leadoff walk, and Shane Rogers, who reached on an error.
“Every at-bat is for the boys,” Marsh said with a nod to the dugout. “Just a jam shot the opposite way; whatever it takes.”
Freshly staked to a 2-1 lead by his own hit, Marsh returned to the mound for the top of the fourth and promptly got into trouble by loading the bases on a single and two walks. A sacrifice fly by Marshall Ruiz plated the tying run, but Marsh allowed nothing the rest of the inning and secured the win when the Royals pushed across three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
“That was just going on adrenalin from getting the runs the inning before,” Marsh said of his shaky start in the fourth. “It took me a few batters to remember I just have to settle in and do my job.”
The Royals got the clinching runs in the fifth, after Robinder Dhut dropped down his second sacrifice bunt of the game to set up another scenario with runners on second and third. Rogers bounced a ball toward third base that was misplayed for an error that allowed both runners to score and Rogers to move to second base.
Josh Laukkanen followed with an RBI double to deep right-center field to score Rogers with the game’s final run.
“The turning point, I thought, was the Shane Rogers at-bat,” Royals assistant coach Dallas Monk said. “It was a roller, but the third baseman bobbled it and we scored two runs. We’d been hitting the ball in the air in the first game, and we told them to keep it on the ground. When you do that, you give yourself a chance.”
Marsh scattered six hits and three walks while striking out nine Langley batters. He and opening-game starter Brayden Baker both threw complete games, something of a rarity this early in the season.
“We didn’t want to do it,” Monk admitted after Baker threw 107 pitches and Marsh followed with 109 on a day marked by a cool, stiff breeze blowing in from left field. “But they’re both such competitors; it’s hard to take them out when they’re asking to stay in there.”
“I feel great,” Marsh said with a shrug. “I felt I kept getting better as the game went on.”
Baker allowed just one earned run but was saddled with the opening-game loss despite striking out 10 and allowing just four hits.
Langley already had three BCPBL games under its belt when it arrived for the Royals’ league opener. Parksville traveled to tune up with preseason exhibition games in Victoria and the Okanagan Valley prior to Sunday’s opener.
The Royals are on the road this weekend, with two games Saturday against the Victoria Eagles at Lambrick Park beginning at noon, followed by a Sunday doubleheader against the Mid-Island Pirates beginning at 1 p.m. at Evans Park in Duncan. The Pirates were formerly known as the Nanaimo Pirates, but the program merged with a Cowichan Valley program that began BCPBL play in the 1990s before dropping out due to low numbers.