With nearly half of its season still remaining, the Okanagan Athletics Premier Baseball League team has tied the franchise record for wins in a season and sit in the lofty position of first place in the BCPBL.
The Athletics climbed into first place with a four game sweep of the Whalley Chiefs on the weekend, improving its record to 23-5 and equalling the most wins ever in a season by the franchise in its eight year history in the PBL, considered the top midget baseball league in Canada.
It’s also the first time the franchise has been in first place in the PBL this late in a season since it entered the PBL in 2004.
“It’s awesome,” said head coach Evan Bailey, now in his third season at the helm of the Athletics, formerly known as the Kelowna Cubs. “When I came in and took the team over they were always at the bottom and we’ve managed to work our way up over a couple of years. It’s really rewarding. It’s kind of surreal. We are just trying to keep the end-goal in sight and that is to be there in the end, to be in that final game and win a championship.”
Against the PBL’s last place team on the weekend, the Athletics played their best baseball of the season, outscoring the Chiefs 32-2. It was a weekend where the A’s were expected to win and Bailey says the players really came through with great performances from all parts of the lineup.
“Those weekends can be tough because you have the feeling you are expected to win,” said Bailey. “Even though they (Whalley) weren’t the best team, I thought those were by far the best four games we have played this year. We put everything together. All our guys hit the ball, we had four strong starts from our pitchers and we played well defensively.”
After winning twice on Saturday the Athletics completed the sweep on Sunday with two convincing wins including a 5-1 series closing win on Sunday. Morgan Lofstrom pitched a complete game three-hitter in the win. Earlier Sunday James Walker pitched a complete game five hitter in a 9-0 win.
On Saturday Clinton Heidebrecht earned the win a 7-1 decision while Dillon Kakoshke pitched a complete game shutout in an 11-0 rout to open the weekend
The Athletics host the North Shore Twins this weekend at Elks Stadium before heading to Nanaimo to play the second place Pirates in two weeks.