The Nanaimo NightOwls were running the basepaths all night at their home opener.
The NightOwls opened the West Coast League regular season with a blowout 14-4 win against the Walla Walla Sweets on Friday, June 2, at Serauxmen Stadium.
The game was close for five innings, with Nanaimo holding down a 2-0 lead, until the bottom of the fifth, when they batted around to score nine runs. The NightOwls were disciplined at the plate, walking 10 times, compared with the Sweets, who were only issued two walks.
“If you look at every big inning in a baseball game, there’s some base on balls, hit by pitches, errors involved in that,” said Greg Frady, NightOwls coach. “We did a really good job of taking our base on balls, we got on base a lot tonight and then when we did get on base, we took advantage with some nice RBIs.”
Brandon Hupe, NightOwls outfielder, said his team’s at bats looked good right from the start, with batters getting into deep counts and fighting pitches off until they got pitches to hit. While that was happening, Nanaimo’s pitchers were challenging Walla Walla batters and getting great defensive plays.
“I think good teams, at the end of the day, they just find ways to win, and tonight that’s what we did,” Hupe said. “We took advantage of some of the mistakes that they made and we made them pay for it.”
NightOwls starting pitcher Nathan Buchan said it’s nice knowing there are eight other guys on the field with him who are going to make almost every play on defence, and it gives pitchers confidence – he said he approached every batter trying to get into an 0-2 count and go from there.
He said the big win to start the year helps with the team’s belief in each other and confidence.
“It builds a sense of camaraderie and enjoyment to come out here and know every day we can win games,” Buchan said. “And playing good baseball like that for the crowd, it makes people want to come out here. They’re going to come out here and get to watch runs get put up and get to watch strikes being thrown.”
Hupe said though it’s just one game in, it’s great to start off with a win.
“It just sets everybody off on the right track,” he said. “Everybody will feel good coming out of this one.”
In the West Coast League, players tend to arrive in town the week the season starts and jump immediately into meaningful ball games. Buchan said he already knows a whole bunch of names and where guys go to college and said he likes how everyone roots for everyone as they all look to develop as ball players.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “We look forward to coming out here every day.”
On opening night, Ethan Rivera led the NightOwls with three hits, Hupe and Michael Easter were both 2-for-3 with two walks and Aaron Marsh and Cameron Tracy had two hits apiece. Buchan threw five shutout innings, allowing three hits.
GAME ON … The NightOwls and Sweets continue their series at Serauxmen Stadium with games Saturday, June 3, at 6:35 p.m., and Sunday, June 4, at 1:05 p.m. For tickets, visit http://nanaimonightowls.com.Follow @nanaimobulletin