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  • Writer's pictureRobert Hollar

Pirates Advance to Championship Series

Jason Starrels pitches against the Legends. Photo by Peter Gastis

Faced with a must-win scenario, the Ventura County Pirates (13-20, 2-1 Best of the West Postseason) defeated the Long Beach Legends (19-14, 1-2 BOTW postseason), 10-1 at Charter Oak High School Thursday to advance to the 2021 BOTW Finals.

“I feel like we’re all starting to come together and click at the right time,” Pirates first baseman Jason Ajamian said.

With the victory, the Ventura County Pirates Baseball Club will have a team appear in the Finals of the Sunset Baseball League for the fourth year in a row.

“It’s a tribute to those players that we’ve had each of those four years,” General Manager George Vranau said. “They’re the ones that get us there.”

Vranau has called upon pitcher Deandrey Carter (1-2, 1-0 postseason) in crucial games in the past, and he did so again on Thursday. The right hander answered the challenge with a Quality Start, hurling six innings of one-run ball. He allowed seven hits and three walks but frequently stranded runners on the bases. One of his four strikeouts came in inning-ending fashion with a runner 90 feet from home in the fifth inning.

“Deandrey has always given us a good effort, and we can always count on him to go six or seven innings,” Vranau said.

Ventura put on a clinic in run production, with seven different players earning an RBI. For the first time this season, every hitter in the Pirates starting lineup recorded at least one hit.

RBIs came from singles, doubles, home runs, productive outs, and sacrifices on Thursday. Steven Gonzalez and Grant Shoen led the charge in populating the bases, each recording three hits. Gonzalez reached base four times from the 10 spot in the lineup.

Ajamian also provided bottom-of-the-order production. The home run came courtesy of his bat from the seven spot in the fifth inning as one of his two hits and two runs on the day.

“Over this past week I’ve been swinging it a lot better,” Ajamian said. “I’m just trying to get on top of the baseball and keep it short and compact.”

The Pirates also shined defensively, and did not commit an error on Thursday. Shoen was particularly noticeable in left field, putting his range in all directions on display with multiple running catches.

The Pirates travel to Hart Park in Orange for the best-of-three BOTW Championship Series against the Inland Valley Pirates. Game one is set for 7:30pm Friday, July 30th.

“We’ve got pitching lined up for the weekend, we just had to make sure we got this one today to get to that point,” Vranau said.

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