Baseball season ended with the Nanaimo NightOwls as the hottest team in the league.
The NightOwls defeated the Port Angeles Lefties by a 7-5 score Sunday, Aug. 7, at Serauxmen Stadium to close out the West Coast League season on a five-game winning streak.
Nanaimo had some of its best crowds of the summer on the final weekend and rewarded fans with a sweep of the Lefties.
“It was amazing,” said Aaron Marsh, NightOwls infielder. “We had a tough start and all the guys that stayed through, we kept pushing and it was great to be able to pull out a win in the last game and everyone going into their college season feeling good.”
Greg Frady, NightOwls coach, said the Island players, in particular, stressed the importance of the final home games for the people watching. The coach said he’s proud of the team’s season-ending win streak.
“I’m proud of that mostly because when you’re at the end of the season and the season hasn’t gone like you hoped it might, it’s easy to quit and play without effort, but the team played with great effort and great energy,” Frady said. “I thought they played with a lot of pride.”
The NightOwls were right in the mix for the first part of their inaugural WCL season, finishing the first half two games below .500, before slumping at the start of the second half. Frady said it was a young group that got better and learned to play more calmly and confidently.
“When you have that many young guys, there’s a lot of growth – good plays, bad plays, ups and downs,” the coach said.
In the season finale, Garrett Goodall threw a complete-game victory, allowing two earned runs and striking out six. Aidan Taclas came in to pinch-hit in the eighth and delivered a two-RBI single that proved to be the difference. Tobey Jackson was 3-for-4 at the plate and Marsh was 2-for-5.
Marsh led the NightOwls in batting with a .309 average, Tim Holyk led the team in hits (42) and RBIs (26), J.T. Sokolove led the team in stolen bases with 24 and Aiden Herrick led the pitching staff in wins with four.
Frady said player development was a priority for the club – the organization tried to give players opportunities to play and position them for success.
“We took some lumps along the way … but every guy that was here today is a better player, more confident and more experienced than they were when they started,” he said. “I think development was really, really good and I think that’s what the West Coast League should be about.”
Frady said he was honoured to represent the city, the community and the ownership group and was honoured to coach the players and guide the coaching staff. Marsh, who is from Nanaimo, said “it was pretty awesome” to be part of the NightOwls’ inaugural season.
“It was great to have home crowds, being a local guy, and everyone supporting you makes you feel a lot better out there knowing you’ve got people behind your back. All the fans, it’s great to see them out,” he said. “It’s just a great environment.”