The first-place and hometown Langley Blaze added to the Okanagan Athletics’ early season misery, sweeping a four-game series from the defending champs in B.C. Premier Baseball League action over the weekend.
The A’s, who went 32-16 last season, have lost nine in a row and are just 5-15 this season.
The Blaze took down the A’s 2-1 and 7-1 on Saturday and 8-0 and 6-2 on Sunday.
Head coach Evan Bailey points to injuries, a lack of breaks and generally mediocre play as keys to his club’s struggles this season.
“It’s really been a perfect storm, a combination of things for us,” said Bailey, who led the A’s to the PBL title last season. “We’ve played 20 games and honestly I don’t think we’ve played a good, complete game this season…we haven’t pitched well, hit well, run the bases well and taken care of the ball in the same game this season.”
Due to his commitment to the national junior program, catcher/pitcher Trevor Lofstrom has played in only eight games for Okanagan this season. Lead-off hitter Trevor Mlait, shortstop/closer Josh Croft and pitcher James Walker have all struggled with injuries, further putting stress on the A’s relatively small 15-man roster.
Okanagan has come up on the short end of nine one-run games.
“It’s definitely been one of the toughest and oddest seasons I’ve seen,” Bailey added. “It’s been disheartening, you try and stay positive and the guys have been good, they’ve stuck with it. On top of everything, we really haven’t had a break, where last year it seemed we got them all the time. That’s baseball.”
On the upside, the toughest part of the Athletics schedule is now behind them, with the majority of their final 28 games against sub-.500 teams.
“I know we’ll make up ground,” Bailey added. “All you can do is keep your chin up and keep playing hard.”
The A’s return to Elks Stadium for four games this weekend against the Victoria Eagles.
Games go at 3 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday.