For a few games this week, Russ Smithson saw what his White Rock Tritons were capable of, and while making the playoffs is still a bit of a longshot, the performance gave him hope that his team still has a shot at the post-season.
On Sunday at South Surrey Athletic Park, the Tritons split a doubleheader with the Parksville Royals, and Tuesday evening, won one of two against the Coquitlam Reds.
And though the .500 record only boosts White Rock’s win-loss record to 9-23 – good for 10th place in the 13-team BC Premier Baseball League – Smithson was encouraged by his squad’s play.
In the first game Tuesday, a 9-6 win over the Reds, the Tritons’ nine runs came on 11 hits, which is one of the team’s best offensive outputs of the year.
Right-fielder Cam Forbes led the attack with his first home run of the season, while left-fielder Max Koltai went 3-for-4 with three runs-batted-in.
“Now I think we’re finally starting to see what the guys are capable of. We’re playing more to our level, even if the wins aren’t quite pouring in,” Smithson said.
“You just wish you could’ve seen more of this earlier in the season, because they can obviously do it.”
Alex Webb pitched four-and-a-third innings, striking out two while walking six, to earn the win. Connor Kenwood pitched the rest of the game, striking out four.
In the second contest Tuesday, a 4-1 loss, pitcher Adam Shumka was tagged with the loss despite striking out six in six innings of work. After starting the season with a 3-1 record, he’s now lost four straight, though he’s continued to pitch well, Smithson said.
“He’s just not always getting the run support in a lot of these games – he’s still pitching well, working hard,” he said.
“I’m sure he was wishing he was pitching that first game instead of the second.”
White Rock’s finest pitching performance of the week came in the Tritons’ 2-0 win Sunday over Parksville, however. Matt Stephens – a position player/reliever making his first start of the season – pitched a complete-game shutout, and did so by throwing just 59 pitches.
“It was just an incredible day on the mound for him,” Smithson said. “It was kind of a last-minute, spot start, because we were a little thin with our pitching depth.
“He just got a lot of ground-balls on first pitches. The whole game was over in like an hour and 19 minutes.”
Jackson Temple and Tanner Sandstrom each had doubles in the win.
In the first game Sunday, the Royals edged the Tritons 4-1.
“Their pitcher just pounded the strike zone and we got behind in too many counts,” Smithson said, explaining the lack of offence.