Good pitching typically beats good hitting and that was the case, unfortunately, for the Langley Blaze.
Facing a deciding game in their best-of-three B.C. Premier Baseball League quarter-final series against the Vancouver Cannons at McLeod Park, Langley came out on the short end of a 4-1 score.
“We had a game plan and stuck to it,” said Blaze coach Jamie Bodaly.
“We just couldn’t cash in when we needed to.”
The Blaze stranded a dozen runners — including twice with the bases loaded — while Connor Noble went the distance for the Cannons.
Noble, a member of the Canadian junior national team, threw 133 pitches and struck out 11.
Bodaly said he had no doubt in his mind that if they could have gotten to the Vancouver bullpen, they would have prevailed.
But the Cannons had been a formidable foe all season for the top-seed Blaze who won the regular season pennant with a 39-9 record. Combined with the playoffs, the team was 40-11 and four of those losses came to Vancouver.
“They just matched up well with us,” Bodaly said.
The team was also hurt by a long layoff, coming out rusty in Saturday’s game one 5-1 loss. The Blaze had not played a league game since late June and had not played a competitive game since returning from a week-long trip to Los Angeles.
In that game, Mitchell Robinson had the lone RBI.
The second game — a must-win for Langley — saw the Cannons ahead 4-2 heading into the fifth. But the Blaze scored once in the fifth, three times in the sixth and then sealed the win with a big seventh inning, winning 13-5.
Kyle Ross pitched a complete game for the win.
The offence was led by Justin Lawrence’s two RBIs while Shoma Sasaki, Mason Cratty, Michael Dagg and Luke Horanski each had one.
Horanski also had the lone RBI in Sunday’s defeat.
The Blaze’s loss saw three of the top four teams eliminated as No. 2 Victoria Mariners lost to No. 7 Nanaimo Pirates and No. 3 North Shore Twins lost to No. 6 Victoria Eagles. The No. 4 Abbotsford Cardinals advanced over the No. 5 Coquitlam Reds.
The four remaining teams will play this weekend at Abbotsford’s Delair Park in the provincial championships.