The offence may still be at times inconsistent, but the White Rock Tritons have had no trouble getting production from the pitching mound.
White Rock has won two of its last three – bumping its Premier Baseball League record to 10-13 – with both victories coming via shutout as the team’s top two pitchers, Josh Larsen and Nathan Trueblood, held the opposition at bay.
At South Surrey Athletic Park on Sunday, Larsen and the Tritons opened a doubleheader against the Vancouver Cannons with a 1-0 victory, with Larsen picking up the win. He struck out four in six-and-one-third innings, before being relieved by Trueblood, who got the final two outs to earn the save. Brandon Novak drove in the game’s only run on a first-inning double.
White Rock lost the nightcap by a narrow 2-1 margin, but bounced back Tuesday on the road with a 4-0 shutout over the 19-7 Langley Blaze. In that game, Trueblood struck out four and scattered just three hits over seven innings of work.
“That was a great win for us. It was the first time all season where everything really came together – pitching, hitting, everything,” said White Rock coach Russ Smithson.
“Our last three games have been really good, and Josh and Nathan have just been great for us. It really helps the rest of the guys to know that they only have to put up a couple of runs, and they’ll still have a chance to win the game.”
Larsen has a 4-3 win-lost record this season, and is among the league leaders in strikeouts, earned-run average and innings pitched.
Trueblood, who joined the team last month after his Blaine High School season ended, is 1-0 with two saves and an ERA of 0.51.
“Nathan’s just jumped right in and picked up where he left off last year with the Junior Tritons,” Smithson said.
“He’s been super valuable for us. He’s not a real hard thrower, but he just knows how to get guys out – he’s very smart on the mound.”
Josh Sigurdson – who splits his time between centre field and the infield – has also been impressive in the last week, Smithson said.
Sigurdson is among the league leaders in batting average with a .344 mark, and has 20 stolen bases – tops in the PBL by five.
He went 1-for-4 against the Blaze Tuesday, with a single and a stolen base.
“Josh is a real dangerous threat, and has been very good the last few games,” Smithson said. “Whenever he gets on base, he’s pretty much a lock to steal second – every single is basically a double, and he really gets into the head of the opposing pitcher.”
The Tritons are in the midst of a busy schedule, as previously rained-out games are made up. Prior to last weekend’s doubleheader against Vancouver, the team hadn’t played a PBL game since May 22, although they did spend the U.S. Memorial Day weekend at the Triple Crown Tournament in Washington.
“It’s been a long wait between games lately – it feels like forever sometimes,” Smithson said. “We were eight games behind (after the Triple Crown tournament), so we’ve got a pretty intense schedule coming up.”
White Rock played Wednesday night against the Coquitlam Reds, and have four games this weekend – two Saturday at home against the North Shore Twins, and two Sunday in Abbotsford against the Cardinals. They also played next Tuesday and Thursday, against the Twins and Reds, respectively.
A handful of PBL players were selected in the Major League Baseball draft earlier this week, led by Langley Blaze pitcher Tom Robson, who was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth round.
Robson, a Ladner resident who attends Delta Secondary, was the first Canadian chosen in the annual draft.
He’s spent the past few weeks with Canada’s junior national team in the Dominican Republic, along with two Blaze teammates, Dustin Houlse and Justin Atkinson, both of whom were also drafted this week, by the Milwaukee Brewers and Jays, respectively.