White Rock Triton Josh Fluet dives for the ball in left field during Sunday’s match against the Parksville Royals. (Aaron Hinks photo)

‘We’re OK with where we’re at’ says White Rock Tritons coach

BC Premier Baseball League team sits with 4-6 record through opening weeks of season

It’s so far, so good for the White Rock Tritons through the first few weeks of the BC Premier Baseball League season.

The under-18 ball club sports a 4-6 win-loss record after a busy stretch last week that saw them practice or play on six of seven days. And the week-long schedule began with a pair of losses – on Friday to the Langley Blaze and Saturday afternoon against the Whalley Chiefs – it ended on a high note, with the South Surrey-based squad winning both ends of a Sunday afternoon doubleheader against the visiting Parksville Royals.

“Right now, we’re OK with where we’re at,” Tritons head coach Kyle Dhanani told Peace Arch News Monday.

“We’d obviously like to be 6-4 instead of 4-6 – and we easily could have been. Things weren’t going our way in (some earlier games), but we took care of business on Sunday, and didn’t get further into a hole.”

• READ ALSO: Young, ‘confident’ Tritons aim to return to PBL playoffs

• READ ALSO: White Rock Tritons split season-opening doubleheaders

With a front-loaded schedule – the Tritons have played more games than any other team in the PBL – the team is already approaching the quarter pole of the season, which Dhanani said the coaching staff will use as a measuring stick, of sorts.

“We’ve got five more games this week to see where we’re at, and that will put us at 15 for the season,” he said. “And by the end of May, we’ll have played another 15 and we’ll have a chance (to practice and rest) while the rest of the league catches up.”

While the Tritons have largely avoided rained out games – Saturday’s game against Whalley was a make-up game from earlier in the month – other teams have barely made it onto the field. The Okanagan Athletics, for example, had not yet played a game before splitting a doubleheader Sunday with the Abbotsford Cardinals.

Though a schedule heavy on April games is risky due to weather – in 2017, the Tritons and other Lower Mainland squads had games washed out seemingly every weekend – Dhanani said he’s looking forward to a lighter league schedule in the summer, as it will give his young crew a chance to stay sharp with extra practice time and tournament play.

“Early on, we expect a few mistakes here and there, but we’ll correct them as the season goes on and we make adjustments,” he said. “In June and July, it’ll be good to have time to put some extra work in, and also play some tournaments and exhibition games, and get these guys some different teams to play against.”

One area of the team that Dhanani has been happy with thus far has been the team’s pitching. More often than not, White Rock’s starting pitchers have managed to pitch deep into games, thus saving the team from overworking its relief pitchers early in the season.

On Sunday, for example, senior pitcher Noah Bryerton went the distance, pitching a full seven innings while striking out nine in the team’s 6-1 win over the Royals in Game 1. And in the nightcap, Nolan Austin went five-and-two-thirds innings, though it was reliever Jason Blouin who earned the official win, as he was in the game during the Tritons’ late-game comeback.

“We’ve definitely had good pitching – we’ve had good length from several guys, and hopefully that will continue,” Dhanani said.

“We’ll definitely take what we can get from these guys. If they’re going to give us five, six innings, that’s great. At some point, we’re going to face competition that’s going to get these guys out of the game a little earlier, but as long as they keep competing, we’ve got enough guys to back them up and get us some (wins).”

Strong defence had helped the pitching staff too, the coach noted.

“We’ve been playing well lately (defensively). In the past, we haven’t always made plays, and that gets your pitcher’s pitch count up, but… the defence has been ready to go to work every game so far.”

On Sunday, the team’s offence was also on full display, albeit on somewhat of a delay in the second game.

In Game 1, Michael Rachman led the way at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored, a stolen base and a run batted in, while three others had doubles – Ryan Dauphinee, Corbin Smith and Darius Opdam Bak.

In the second game, Parksville pitcher Nolan Macdonald kept the Tritons’ offence at bay, and had a no-hitter through four innings. White Rock got on the board in the fifth after a pair of singles – one of which was a hit-and-run – an error and a passed ball plated a pair of runs.

The 2-0 lead didn’t last long, however, as the visitors scored three in the next half-inning to take a 3-2 into the bottom of the sixth.

White Rock then got a single from Kole Turner and a double from Dauphinee, and both came around to score after a hit by Smith, who had two strikes on him before connecting on the go-ahead hit.

“He was in an 0-2 hole, had made a couple of ugly swings, but he made some adjustments and took care of business,” Dhanani said of Smith’s hit.

“Their pitcher really kept us off balance… and all of a sudden we’re looking at splitting (a doubleheader) again. But a couple seniors game through for us late,” he continued.

“It was a nice way to end the week.”

Tomorrow (Wednesday), the Tritons will host the Chiefs at South Surrey Athletic Park.

On Saturday, they have two more home games on the schedule – at 1 and 3:30 p.m. against the North Shore Twins – before boarding a ferry for two games in Parksville Sunday afternoon.



sports@peacearchnews.com

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