Pitching leads Mariners to strong start

The Victoria Mariners won three of four home games at at Henderson Park last weekend, the club’s first home stand

Nathan McKinlay pitched a complete game shutout as the Mariners defeated the Coquitlam Reds 2-0 on April 22.

The only thing better than one ace on your staff is two – or three.

The Victoria Mariners won three of four home games at at Henderson Park last weekend, the club’s first home stand in the 2012 B.C. Premier Baseball League.

Nathan McKinlay took the mound for Victoria on Sunday morning and proceeded to throw seven shutout innings with six strikeouts, one walk and just two hits, as the M’s defeated the Coquitlam Reds 2-0.

It was one of two Mariners’ shutouts on the weekend, as Colton Wood threw five innings in an 11-0 blowout of the North Delta Blue Jays to start the four-game weekend on Saturday. It’s a good sign the Mariners have depth in the starting rotation. Of the three Mariners pitchers with more than one start (McKinlay, Wood and Erik Phillips), Wood has the highest earned runs average, at just 2.33.

“Everything’s going well right now,” McKinlay said. “Pitching and defence is really strong and we’re hitting well.”

With Mariners catcher Ty Russell leading the BCPBL in batting average (.560) and RBIs (8), it’s no surprise the M’s (6-2) are in second place. Only the Okanagan Athletics (9-3) are ahead, having played four more games already.

Sunday’s win was also the second time McKinlay (2-0) has thrown seven scoreless innings. The right-hander’s first start of the season went into extra innings tied at zero with the Nanaimo Pirates (6-2). No sooner had McKinlay been pulled from that game when an incident took place that saw both benches clear in a brawl, which led to numerous player ejections.

“I think we’re going to do well this season and we are a close group anyways,” McKinlay said. ”But the (brawl) brought us together a bit more (considering) how early it is in the season. We know we’ve got each other’s backs.”

Erik Phillips came on in relief, following the fireworks, and eventually earned the win in a 12-inning affair that ended 3-2.

Game day

On Saturday the Mariners host the Langley Blaze for a doubleheader, 12 and 2:30 p.m. at Henderson Park. Meanwhile the crosstown rival Victoria Eagles are in Coquitlam for two games on Sunday.

The outsider

McKinlay, a Grade 12 student at Oak Bay High, is the only non-Lambrick Park secondary student on the Mariners. He’s headed to Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas, on a scholarship, one of several Mariners going to junior college next year.

McKinlay was part of Victoria’s run to the final four in last year’s playoffs, in which they finished third.

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