“Great way to end the season at home,” Junior Royals head coach Kevin Biro surmised proudly Monday after the dust had settled on his baseball squad’s year-ending four-game home stand.
“The boys played the best they have all season,” said the longtime local player and veteran Royal-turned-mentor, adding, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and we finished our last home stand very strong.”
Especially on Saturday. Against White Rock for their first of two BCJPBL double headers up at Springwood Park, Parksville’s Andrew Evernden gave up only two runs against the hard-hitting Tritons and pitched the complete game (seven innings) for the 7-2 win on the hill.
“White Rock banged out 10 hits, but Andrew battled back and got us out of some jams,” coach Biro said in his post-weekend recap.
Evernden, he pointed out, was recently selected to play at the Western Canadian Games in Kamloops in August.
“His composure on the mound has vastly improved since the start of the year, and his numbers have improved alongside it.”
Biro also had props for his defence which “was outstanding in both games,” pointing to Liam Ballance and Justin Dieleman who were rock solid on the left side of the infield. Ballance also helped the cause with a clutch 2 RBI double late in the game.
Sam Visona led the offence, going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI’s and Nic Wassbauer was 2-for-2.
“No errors, excellent pitching, and timely hitting was the story of the game. That is the best we as a team have played all year,” said Biro, pointing out their defence “has been our Achilles heel during the course of the season, but it was at its strongest in the series against the Tritons.”
The young Royals picked up where they left off in game two and got another great game from their pitcher as Nic Annau pitched nine shutout innings.
Annau gave up only four hits and Parksville trimmed White Rock 1-0 in a battle royale.
A pitchers duel from start to finish, the game was scoreless through to the bottom of the 10th.
“Outstanding pitching by both starters. The best Annau, and all of our pitchers have pitched all year,” said the coach.
Annau, he said, has been chosen to represent Team BC in the Pacific Northwest Championships in Centralia, Washington.
Blake Heemskerk came on in relief in the 10th inning for P-ville and pitched himself out of a jam to keep it scoreless.
“Once again, White Rock put the ball into play and Ballance and Dieleman were solid on the left side of the infield.”
In the bottom of the 10th, Dieleman got on in the inning with a walk, and Eric Nigut from beautiful downtown Bowser came through in the clutch with a double to score Dieleman from first to win the game 1-0.
Eric, said his coach, “also had a career day at the park with a couple of hits and played solid defense all day.”
Back at it Sunday the local juniors were not as fortunate as they battled hard but came up on the short end of 10-4, 7-0 finals to the Victoria Eagles.
“We didn’t play as sharp as the previous day but a very positive weekend of baseball.”
Nolan Badovinac got to start his first game of the year and went five strong innings, and Ballance, another young prospect, banged out three hits on the day for five on the weekend.
“It was a great day at the ball park,” said the upbeat Biro. “We had lots of key at bats, clutch defense, role players, and team at bats. It was a team effort and team win and everyone played their part. We have come so far as a team since the start of the year. Our record (6-42 for last in the 13-team league) does not represent the athletes we have on this team.”
The junior team had two players reach 40 hits on the season; two players made select teams and five players were called up to play on the senior team and contributed in the Senior Royals’ three wins in their final four games of the regular season.
“I firmly believe we have some serious athletes in the making,” said Biro.
“As a coach, I could not ask for a better group of players. Their hard work, determination and commitment is the best in the league (and) although we didn’t get the record we desired or deserved, it certainly was a positive year and looks very optimistic going forward.
“Some very promising athletes, some terrific up and comers and some strong guys moving into the senior team next season. The future looks very bright for the Royals organization. I am extremely happy and proud of all of my athletes.”