In 2017, the Okanagan Athletics had their worst ever start to a regular season with just eight wins in the first 30 games.
But with 12 victories in their last 14, Evan Bailey’s club also posted its best finish ever in the B.C. Premier Baseball League.
With the first-place North Shore Twins awaiting them in the opening round of the playoffs this weekend, the A’s couldn’t have chosen a better time to be playing their best baseball of the year.
“Every coach in the world will tell you that’s what you want to see, your team peaking as you enter the playoffs,” said Bailey, whose club finished eighth in the PBL with a 20-24 record. “We’re as hot as anyone right now, so I think everyone feels pretty good. Once you get to the playoffs, whether you’re playing the No. 1 seed or No. 8 seed, anything can happen.
“I like where we stand heading into (the playoffs).”
At 34-10, the Twins finished 14 games ahead of the Athletics during the regular season. In May, North Shore swept four games from the Athletics, but three of those losses were by two runs or less. In addition, Bailey said his A’s are a vastly different team than it was a couple of months ago.
“Health was a big thing at the start and to have a new group of players, it took time for them to settle in,” said Bailey, who expects the series to go to the limit. “It was a matter of putting the right guys on the field and finding the right mix. Things didn’t really start coming together until a few weeks ago, and now more guys are producing and playing with confidence.
“We’re not even close to the team we were. We’re completely different and have really been playing well the last few weeks.”
The first two games of the best-of-three series go Saturday at North Shore, with a third game, if needed, to be played Sunday.
The winner will advance to the PBL’s championship tournament July 20 to 23 in Coquitlam.
The A’s closed out the regular season last weekend at Elks Stadium, taking three of four games from the Reds.