White Rock Tritons in third in PBL after five-straight wins

Tritons in third place after wins over Blaze, Pirates, Royals

Gord Goble photo White Rock Tritons’ pitcher Allan Hogg led his team to a 5-3 win over the Parksville Royals Sunday afternoon at South Surrey Athletic Park.

When the rain holds off long enough for the White Rock Tritons to actually hit the field, it turns out they’re pretty good.

The BC Premier Baseball League squad managed to squeeze in all five scheduled games in the last week – including four on the weekend – and emerged unscathed. The five victories boosted the under-18 squad’s win-loss record to 6-3, which is good enough for third place in the 12-team league.

On Thursday at South Surrey Athletic Park, the Tritons defeated 6-3 one of the PBL’s top teams, the Langley Blaze, and followed that up Saturday, also at home, by winning both ends of a doubleheader against the Mid-Island (formerly Nanaimo) Pirates, 7-5 and 4-2, with the latter game ending after just five innings due to rain. On Sunday, White Rock concluded its busy schedule with two wins – 7-2 and 5-3 – over another Vancouver Island foe, the Parksville Royals.

“Once we took down Langley on Thursday night, I thought there was a pretty good chance we could get the sweep, depending on the starts we got from our pitchers and the defence we were going to play,” said Tritons head coach Kyle Dhanani on Monday.

“On Saturday, winning those games – they were a little bit closer games than we had hoped they’d be, but we still pulled it off. And with the momentum we had and the energy we had going into Sunday, I thought before the games that we had a chance to win both of them, too.”

Despite the lofty position in the standings – White Rock is one game behind the second-place North Shore Twins and half a game ahead of the Blaze – Dhanani said he wasn’t putting much stock in the team’s early-season positioning, considering the large number of rain-postponed games has wreaked havoc with more than a few clubs’ early-season schedules.

“I won’t really take (standings) into account until about halfway through (the season) because there’s some teams that haven’t played much, and some have played 12,” he said.

The Victoria Mariners still sit atop the PBL standings with a perfect record, though they’ve played fewer games – just two – than any other team. The Whalley Chiefs and Coquitlam Reds have only played four league contests.

However, scheduling quirks aside, Dhanani – in his first year at the helm of the Tritons’ squad – was pleased with his team’s effort last week, beginning with the Thursday night pitching performance of first-year Triton Spencer Davis, who came to the Semiahmoo Peninsula this spring from Saskatchewan.

Against the Blaze, Davis pitched five innings, striking out five batters while allowing just four hits and two earned-runs. Relievers Perrin Finley and Brogan McDougall pitched the final two innings – one apiece – with McDougall earning the save.

“I thought Spencer pitched really well. He really kept the Blaze off-balance as hitters,” Dhanani said. “And we were able to take advantage of a couple of Langley’s mistakes and we got the W.”

Offensively, White Rock was led by designated hitter Keith Manby, who had one hit and three runs-batted in, while the Hogg brothers – Allan and Jackson – each had doubles. Allan Hogg also stole a base and that, combined with the two others he stole on the weekend, gives him a team-best six on the season, which is two back of the league lead.

On Saturday, the Tritons took Game 1 of the doubleheader over the Pirates thanks to a four-run second inning and a two-run sixth, which put them over the top. The Pirates scored once in the top of the seventh to bridge the gap to two runs, but Cameron Dunn, who earned the save, managed to shut the door and get the final outs.

In total, four pitchers – Manby, Finley, Georgi Sugimoto and Dunn – combined to pitch seven innings.

“It was a real effort, a bullpen effort,” Dhanani said. “But we managed to get the job done.”

Catcher Cole Walter had three RBI and Jackson Hogg had a double and two RBI.

In the nightcap later Saturday, the teams managed to squeak in five innings – making the game official – before it was called on account of rain. Jackson Hogg had two more RBI and a stolen base in that tilt, while Walter also went one-for-two with an RBI himself.

On the mound, Matt Leeder pitched four-and-a-third innings, striking out two while giving up just two hits and six walks. He was credited with the win, and Jacob Hart came in from the bullpen to record the final two outs and notch the save.

The home team got two more strong starting pitching performances Sunday, en route to their fourth and fifth consecutive wins. Evan Lane earned the start for the opening game against Parksville, striking out four in five-and-one-third innings, before Lucus Frers came into the game and struck out three of the five batters he faced.

In the Sunday nightcap, Allan Hogg was dominant on the hill despite being on a pitch count as he works his way back from an early-season injury. The talented hurler struck out eight Royals and allowed just one hit in five innings, before giving way to Tanner Carmont and McDougall, who each pitched one inning.

“I actually came out to the mound (in the fifth inning) to pull him because he’d hit his pitch count, but he talked me out of it. He threw one more pitch and got the last out (of the inning),” said Dhanani.

“It was a pretty solid outing from him.”

At the plate, the Tritons were led by the long ball, as both left-fielder Adam Van den Brink and junior call-up Rhys Folick hit home runs out of South Surrey Athletic Park.

“Adam’s was a really nice hit… he didn’t even know it was a home run,” Dhanani laughed. “Everybody else knew but him. He was running hard out of the box and I tried to give him a high-five at first base and he almost missed it beacuse he was still watching where the ball was going.”

“It’s a tall fence in right field, but he got all of it.”

White Rock will look to extend its winning streak this weekend when they host the Whalley Chiefs and Abbotsford Cardinals for two games apiece.

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