Sports

Athletics ground Pirates, move up to 5th

The Okanagan Athletics shake hands with players from Nanaimo after sweeping four games from the Pirates Premier Baseball League action Sunday Elks Stadium. - Warren Henderson/Capital News
The Okanagan Athletics shake hands with players from Nanaimo after sweeping four games from the Pirates Premier Baseball League action Sunday Elks Stadium.
— image credit: Warren Henderson/Capital News

With seven wins in their last eight games, the Okanagan Athletics are making some noise in the B.C. Premier Baseball League.

The A's, who swept four games over the weekend from the Nanaimo Pirates, are now 14-10 and have pushed their way into fifth spot in the 13-team circuit.

With the league's top two teams—Langley and North Shore—already off the A's plate, head coach Evan Bailey said his club is taking care of business against the league's lesser opponents, much the way he had hoped.

"The guys are doing well but at the same time we have to remain grounded and realistic about where we're at," Bailey said. "The last couple of weekends we haven't faced the strongest of opponents, so it was important for us to get the job done. The guys played OK overall and did what they needed to."

The catalyst in the A's sweep was the pitching rotation, as all four starters turned in solid efforts—Okanagan won over Nanaimo 14-1, 5-0, 4-1 and 4-3.

Trevor Lofstrom went four innings on just two hits in the opener, Matt Brodt tossed a five-hit shutout for his third win, Easton Forrest gave up just a run and three hits in a complete game effort, and Jared Young went seven strong in the series finale.

"We had four really good starts and we only gave up three walks, so that was really positive…we only went to the bullpen once," Bailey said.

While Bailey said the offence was adequate and the defense was average at best, he liked the work at the plate by the bottom third of the Okanagan order.

"Some of our guys at the bottom of the order who had been struggling really came through for us. Anytime you have a weekend where your best hitters don't produce as much, you need other guys to step up…and that's what we got."

Bailey was also encouraged by his club's come-from-behind win in the series finale, as the A's scored three times in the top of the seventh to overcome a 3-1 deficit.

"We were down to our last strike in (Game 4) and we came back to win," said Bailey. "That's definitely great to see, those are wins that are real important come the end of the season, they can mean the difference in where you finish up."

The Athletics are back home this coming weekend as they take on the North Delta Blue Jays (4-12). The teams will play doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday at Elks Stadium.

Bailey said the A's will welcome veteran Trevor Mlait back into the lineup. The senior  outfielder has played in just eight of 24 games so far due to injury.

Junior and bantam A's…

The junior A's (5-12) will return to BCJPBL action this weekend at Edith Gay Park.

Okanagan will host the Whalley junior Chiefs for doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday.

Last weekend, the A's split four games at home against the Nanaimo junior Pirates, winning 9-0 and 14-9, and losing 9-1 and 9-1.

Meanwhile, the A's bantam AAA squad will travel to Vancouver Island this weekend. The A's (6-14) will visit Nanaimo for a twin bill Saturday, before taking on North Island for two games on Sunday.

The A's next home action in Saturday, June 14 against Ridge Meadows.

 

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