Former Vancouver Canucks coach Harry Neale once surmised that his sad-sack hockey team couldn’t win at home, always lost on the road, and that “my failure as a coach is I can’t think of any place else to play.”
And though they play different sports, White Rock Tritons coach Russ Smithson can’t be blamed if he’s started to have similar thoughts about his struggling B.C. Premier Baseball League club.
After playing the first six weeks of the season almost exclusively on the road, the Tritons – who sit 12th out of 13 teams with a 7-20 win-loss record – have finally settled into their home field at South Surrey Athletic Park, but the team has only seen a mild improvement.
White Rock won just one of four home games on the weekend, splitting a Saturday doubleheader with the Victoria Mariners before being swept by the second-place Nanaimo Pirates Sunday. Earlier in the week, the Tritons did manage another win, beating the Whalley Chiefs 7-2 on May 22.
On Saturday, the Mariners shut out the Tritons 5-0 in the opening game – White Rock managed just four hits and made three fielding errors – before the home team rebounded in the second contest, winning 10-2.
Scott Doucet earned the win for White Rock, pitching six innings, scattering five hits while striking out three. Joel Lamont pitched the seventh frame, striking out one of the three batters he faced.
The game was scoreless until the Tritons took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning – Tony Tabor reached base on a walk, then scored on a fielder’s choice, and Talon Van Horn singled and scored on an error later in the inning.
The Tritons’ big inning came in the fifth, when they scored seven, after four hits and two Victoria errors.
The Mariners made three errors overall – and the team’s three pitchers walked seven – which aided the White Rock offence. In fact, just three of the Tritons’ 10 runs were earned, and the rest came as a result of fielding miscues.
Tabor and Alex Webb each had two RBI to lead the charge.
In Sunday’s 11-0 loss to Nanaimo, Pirate batters got to White Rock pitcher Adam Shumka in the first half of the game, scoring eight runs off six hits and four walks in four innings, before Brayden Bouchey pitched the final three frames in relief.
Nanaimo designated hitter Bryan Odgers had a double and a triple, and the team smacked six extra-bases hits in total.
White Rock managed just two hits – both singles – off Pirates’ hurler Luke Skingle.
The second game was a much closer affair. Nanaimo scored ones in the second and twice in the fifth inning, and White Rock managed it’s lone run in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Van Horn scored on a Lamont double.
Webb was tagged with the loss, striking out four while allowing just one earned run in six innings on the mound.
Despite the team’s struggles, the playoffs are not completely out of reach for the Tritons. They’re only five games back of the eighth-place Abbotsford Cardinals for the PBL’s final playoff spot, though they would have to jump the North Delta Blue Jays, Vancouver Cannons and Parksville Royals in the process.
White Rock travelled to Abbotsford Wednesday for a game against the Cardinals, but the game was played after Peace Arch News’ deadlines.