Shutting down the Okanagan Athletics’ junior program wasn’t part of the plan for the 2015 baseball season.
But with a shortage of players at both the senior and junior levels, a decision was made to combine the resources of the two teams.
The result is a well-stocked senior A’s team which now has 19 players on the roster—instead of the initial 14—for the B.C. Premier Baseball League season.
“What it does is add strength to our team and now no one is guaranteed playing time,” said A’s coach Evan Bailey. “We have enough players now that they’re going to push one another and I think make us a better team overall.
“We didn’t like to have to shut down the juniors, but with such a lack of numbers (10 players) it’s hard to run a team,” added Bailey who expects the junior team to return next year.
Okanagan’s newfound depth was evident on opening weekend as the A’s took three of four games from the Whalley Chiefs at Elks Stadium.
Saturday was particularly productive day up and down the lineup as the Athletics won both games by a combined score of 25-5.
“It was a good way to start,” Bailey said. “We were really good that day, they weren’t so good so it was a combination of things. We threw the ball well and made the most of our opportunities.”
In the opener, Easton Forrest tossed a four hitter over five innings as Okanagan made short work of the Chiefs 12-2.
Trevor Lofstrom paced the offence with three RBIs, while Chase Decosse and McCoy Pearce stole three bases each. All of Pearce’s steals, including home, came in one sequence during a seven-run third inning.
In Game 2, Markus Glowacki drove in three runs in a 13-3 victory. David Tongue went five innings on a four hitter for his first win.
In Game 3 Sunday morning, Whalley fought back with an 11-8 win. Decosse drove in three runs in a losing cause.
But the A’s rebounded in the series finale with a 5-3 victory. Keaton Mandryk went all the way on the mound scattering nine hits.
Decosse was a terror on the base paths, stealing eight bases and scoring seven times.
Pearce also scored seven runs, Lofstrom had five RBIs and Dylan Faulkner batted .375 with three RBIs, four walks and three runs scored.
Bailey also praised Sam Avila for his solid play at shortstop.
The team played without veteran outfielder and lead-off hitter Trevor Mlait who is sidelined with an injury.
The A’s (3-1) will be on the road this weekend as they visit the White Rock Tritons for four games in Surrey.