A weekend split for the Quality Foods Parksville Royals was well earned, as they battled the heat on the field along with the Langley Blaze, the best team in the BCPBL.
In the battle between first place and last, there wasn’t much separating the teams at Inouye–Wallace Field Sunday. Game one saw the Blaze come from behind to take the win 5–4. Game two saw the Royals take a 5–3 lead, with the Blaze tying it up on a controversial call, only to give the lead away in the bottom of the seventh for a 6–5 Royals win.
Owen Kelly got the start on the bump for the Royals in the first game, throwing all seven innings. Kelly was cruising after giving up two runs in the first, not allowing another run until the top half of the sixth. That’s where the wheels came off, giving up three runs to the Blaze as they took a 5–4 lead and closed the door on any comeback hopes.
“We came ready to play, we did a lot of things right in that first game,” assistant coach Bruce Biro said. “We had some clutch hits when we needed them but unfortunately we didn’t have the hits we needed in those last two innings when we really needed them.”
Nanoose Bay’s Justin Dieleman went 2–4 at the plate, as did Len Nakatsuka, from Nanaimo, in a losing cause. Nanoose Bay’s Josh Anderson also went 1–3 with an RBI to boot.
With the first game in the books and the temperature rising, Parksville’s Andrew Evernden looked to continue the solid pitching for the Royals in game two.
With the Blaze leading 3–2, the Royals put together a rally with two outs in the fifth inning, as Cory Bukauskas, Nakatsuka and Dieleman all came around to score, giving the Royals a 5–3 lead heading in to the sixth. The Blaze scored two runs to tie the game but it wasn’t without an argument from Biro and a handful of fans as well. Biro was ejected from the game when he disputed a ball that landed about five feet foul, with a dent in the roof of the batting cage in right field to prove it. The call stood and the two teams were locked at 5–5.
The Royals held it together though, not letting a blown call stop them from taking control. Ethan Fox hit a lead off double in the bottom of the seventh, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a wild pitch, giving the Royals a 6–5 win.
“We played hard and showed that we can hang with anyone,” Biro said. “The boys didn’t let a bad call get in the way of them winning a game that they deserved to win and that was great to see.”