From a team perspective, it hasn’t been a stellar 2013 campaign for the Okanagan Athletics.
Still, the defending B.C. Premier Baseball League champs have done what’s necessary to remain in the hunt for a post-season berth.
The A’s (16-24) earned a split with the visiting Vancouver Cannons over the weekend, to stay within two games of the Cannons for the eighth and final playoff berth.
Considering two of the club’s top two pitchers—James Walker (injury) and Morgan Lofstrom (Canadian junior team)—haven’t been available for much of the season, head coach Evan Bailey said his club has fared reasonably well.
“It really hasn’t been a pretty year, but the kids haven’t actually played all that badly, either,” said Bailey. “When you have two of your four starters basically out of the picture, that makes it tough. But we’ve hung in there and given ourselves a chance, and all we want to do now is get into the playoffs.”
Based on their remaining schedule, the A’s like their prospects of slipping into the post season.
Okanagan plays four games against the last-place Parksville Royals (2-29), before closing against another sub-.500 team, the North Delta Blue Jays.
Bailey said six wins over the last eight games should be enough to get the A’s in.
In Saturday’s series opener at Elks, Will Russell tossed a no-hitter for five innings as the A’s silenced the Cannons 11-1.
Morgan Lofstrom had three RBIs, Jared Young had three hits and scored three times, and Josh Croft had two RBIs and scored three runs for the A’s.
In Game 2, the Cannons bounced back with a 6-2 win.
On Sunday, the Cannons roughed up starter Trevor Lofstrom for six runs in three innings on the way to a 12-4 Vancouver win. James Ward had three hits in the setback.
In the series finale, James Walker made his first start since last season and was greeted rudely as the Cannons scored six runs in the first inning. But the A’s rallied all the way back for an 11-7 win. Josh Croft pitched four-hit ball for the last 6 1/3 innings for his second win. Croft added three hits and two RBIs, while Morgan Lofstrom had three hits and scored three runs.
“That was a huge win for us,” Bailey said of the series finale. “That’s the difference between being two games out and four games out…I like our chances a lot better because of that win.”
The A’s will play this weekend in the Kelowna Jays Canada Day Baseball Blast, before returning to PBL action July 12 and 13 in Parksville.
In BCJPBL action, the junior A’s took three of four from the Nanaimo Pirates at Lombardy Park.
On Saturday in the opener, Easton Forrest tossed a seven-hitter as the A’s won 3-2.
In Game 2, Trevor Perversoff had two RBIs and picked up the save as Okanagan won 5-4.
On Sunday, David Tongue spun a one-hit shutout in a 2-0 A’s victory.
In the series finale, the Pirates avoided a sweep with a 7-3 win.
The junior A’s (18-18) will visit the Abbotsford Cardinals July 13 and 14.