Coming off best regular season in club history, the Okanagan Athletics clearly hope the trend continues in the B.C. Premier Baseball League playoffs.
The fourth-place A’s will host the fifth-place Whalley Chiefs on Saturday at Elks Stadium to open the best-of-three first round series. Games go at 2 and 4:30 p.m., with a third, if necessary, set for Sunday at 11 a.m.
Despite having home field advantage and finishing ahead of the Chiefs (25-19) in the standings, head coach Evan Bailey said his club will be taking nothing for granted this weekend.
“If we take care of business and play like we can, we’ll be fine. But high school baseball is crazy…anything can happen,” Bailey said. “It’s a good matchup for us so now we just need to go out and play.”
The A’s finished the 2016 regular season at 30-14, posting the best winning percentage (.682) in team history. The A’s also set a PBL record for the longest winning streak, running off 14 straight victories from May 28 to July 16.
There were also some stellar individual efforts, including pitcher Matt Brodt leading the league in wins (10) and ERA (1.24) and shortstop Sam Avila leading the club with a .391 batting average.
“There are so many ups and downs in a season but overall I’d say our pitching and defense held up really well this year,” said Bailey. “After a slow start, we picked it up and some guys really stepped up when we needed them to.
“Our goal was to be a top five team and have a home playoff series and we were able to do that. Overall I’m not shocked, I knew our guys would compete but I’m happy that we were really able to check all the important check marks this season.”
The top eight teams in the PBL will compete in the opening round of the playoffs this weekend.
The four series winners will advance to the B.C. championship tournament July 29 to 31 in Abbotsford.
The A’s won their first and only PBL title in 2012.