As the underdog in their first round series against the Langley Blaze, the Okanagan Athletics needed some clutch performances to move on in the B.C. Premier Baseball League playoffs.
Head coach Evan Bailey got just that from his starting pitchers, his defense as well as some timely offense in upsetting the Blaze two games to one in the best-of-three series.
After dropping the opener Saturday in Langley, the A’s rebounded with back-to-back shutouts to advance to the BCPBL championship tournament this weekend in Victoria.
Despite a solid pitching display by the A’s Sean Haylow, the Blaze opened the series with a 5-2 win.
In Game 2 on Saturday, Matt Brodt was masterful in tossing a complete game two-hitter as the A’s won 1-0. Okanagan scored the game winner in the bottom of the seventh on a walk to Kade Kozak.
During the regular season, Brodt threw a no-hitter against the Blaze in a 2-1 win.
In the third and deciding game of the series on Sunday night, Easton Forrest stepped up with a game of his own, a complete game three-hitter as the A’s eliminated the Blaze with a 4-0 win.
The A’s had just four hits of their own, but scored three times in the third, including two on a base hit by Markus Glowacki.
“We had three outstanding pitching performances,” said Evan Bailey. “What we needed was guys to step up and that’s exactly what they did.
“Our defense was huge, too, they way they played was crucial to our success.”
The Athletics will open the BCPBL championship Friday in Victoria against the North Shore Twins, their first of three games in the four-team round robin which also includes Nanaimo and Victoria.
All three teams finished above the A’s in the regular season standings, but Bailey says those numbers will mean little at the year-end championship tournament.
“I truly believe we can play with any of these teams,” said Bailey. “They’re all good teams, but we feel like we match up pretty well. You just need to get hot for a three-day span, instead of two, and there’s no reason that can’t happen.”
On Saturday, the A’s will play the Nanaimo Pirates and Victoria Eagles to wrap up the round robin.
The PBL championship final will be played Sunday at 12:30 p.m.