Evan Bailey predicted his Okanagan Athletics would be a top-three contender this season in the B.C. Premier Baseball League.
If the first two weeks of the 2012 campaign are any indication, then the A’s head coach might not be too far off the mark.
The hometown Athletics took three of four games from the perennially-competitive Langley Blaze over the weekend at Elks Stadium to push their season record to 6-2, good enough to move into a first-place tie with Nanaimo.
They were the first wins ever for a Kelowna-based team over the Blaze in nine seasons in the PBL. In head coach Bailey’s tenure, the A’s were 0-10 vs Langley until the prosperous weekend at Elks.
“It was huge to beat Langley because of the history we’ve had with them,” said Bailey. “I told the guys it could be the toughest weekend we have all year, Langley was 3-0 coming in, so to take three off of them is great.
“The guys are pumped. If you can’t beat the best it means nothing, and the guys went out and did that.”
Blaze pitchers, who hadn’t given up a run in their first three games of the season, were rattled by the A’s for 33 runs and 38 hits over the four games.
Okanagan’s offense is turning out to be everything Bailey suspected it would be.
“One through nine in our lineup, we really have no weaknesses,” he said. “We have so many guys that can play, and they’re very unselfish about their roles. A lot of scouts have told me it’s the best lineup, offensively, they’ve seen in this league.”
The Okanagan squad smashed out 15 hits in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Elks Stadium to post a 12-7 win.
Dillon Kakoshke tripled and went 4-for-5 with two RBIs to pace the A’s attack, while Dawson Yates, Davis Todosichuk, and Jordan Ramirez each drove in two runs.
Morgan Loftstrom, who traded in his catcher’s mitt in Game 4 to take the mound in relief, tossed 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to pick up the win.
In the first game Sunday, the Blaze earned their lone victory of the weeked after pushing a run across in the sixth inning to eke out a 3-2 win over Okanagan.
Junior starter James Walker turned in another solid effort in the loss, allowing just three hits over five innings and striking out seven. Josh Croft had three of the A’s nine hits. In Saturday’s series opener, the Athletics scored four in the sixth inning to overtake the Blaze 7-5.
Dawson Yates, Morgan Lofstrom and Nathan Ackerman each had a pair of RBIs, while Rees Weninger tossed three innings of scoreless relief to pick up the victory.
In Game 2, Ackerman drove in four runs and Brandon Sonnerberg had two RBIs and two runs scored in a 12-6 win over Langley.
Nolan Handley pitched into the fourth inning to pick up his second win of the season.
The A’s return to action this Saturday and Sunday at Elks Stadium as they host the Parksville Royals for a pair of doubleheaders.