Victoria’s MLB stars inspire hopefuls


As the Canadian junior national teammates Jason Willow, of the Victoria Mariners, and Jack DeCooman, of the North Shore Twins, performed at Layritz Park on Saturday, they could only wonder what dreams may come after former Victoria Eagles pitcher Nick Pivetta’s recent debut for the Philadelphia Phillies to become the latest B.C. Premier Baseball League alumnus to play in the majors.

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Pivetta continued a remarkable story of success for the developmental league as he joined the likes of Michael Saunders and Rich Harden, out of the Victoria Mariners, and other BCPBL graduates to make the majors, including Brett Lawrie, Larry Walker, Justin Morneau, Jeff Francis, Adam Loewen, Ryan Dempster and James Paxton.

Slugging-infielder Willow jacked a three-run homer to lead the Mariners (3-1) to a 13-6 victory over the Twins (8-3) before DeCooman tossed a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the Twins 8-0 victory over the Mariners.

Both players had just returned from a spring camp in Florida in which the Canadian junior team played signed minor pro players from major league organizations.

Both Willow and DeCooman are on beam to becoming professionals themselves.

“When you see two Victoria guys on the Phillies [Pivetta and Saunders], that gives you confidence,” Willow said.

The Lambrick Park student has committed to NCAA Div. 1 UC-Santa Barbara, but will play it by ear depending on what happens in the 2017 MLB draft.

“I am waiting for the draft. Either choice [U.S. collegiate NCAA or signing pro] is exciting,” Willow said.

Both Willow and DeCooman are being heavily scrutinized by pro scouts.

“I was a bit overwhelmed and nervous by that at first, but you learn how to deal with it,” Willow said.

Of his key hit in Saturday’s first game, Willow said: “It was inside and I drove it.”

About his national teammate DeCooman’s performance on the mound in the Twins win in the second game, Willow added: “He commands the ball so well.”

The Coquitlam Reds (4-4) swept Pivetta’s old Eagles club (4-8) by scores of 7-5 and 5-0 in doubleheader action Saturday at Lambrick Park.

Shuta Araki, batting .395 this season, led the Eagles with two hits in the first game. Cam Devlin got the lone Eagles hit in the second game as Reds pitcher Madjik Mackenzie spun a one-hitter.

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