The pennant-winning Nanaimo Pirates sure didn’t lose many season series in 2011.
But one team that managed to get the better of them was the Okanagan Athletics, who face the Pirates in the B.C. Premier Baseball League playoffs starting Sunday (July 24).
“We brawled them last time up there; they took three of four from us,” said Doug Rogers, Pirates manager. “We were banged up, injured, sick, everything. Now we’re not. We’re getting healthy. Our pitching is set; we’re at home. Everything has kind of fallen into place.”
The Pirates all predicted they would be better this time against the A’s than they were the last time. The brawl in Kelowna in June led to player ejections, so an undermanned Nanaimo team was stretched even thinner in that series. Pitchers were playing in the outfield and other guys were also shuffled around. That won’t be the case this weekend.
“To be honest, they’re not that good of a team. They’re average at best,” said Cody Andreychuk, Pirates first baseman. “They can’t hit. They’ve got a good pitching staff, their defence is all right but honestly our team’s a million miles ahead of them and I think we’re going to take it to them.”
Playing in Nanaimo this time instead of Kelowna will make a difference. Rogers said the Pirates attract the most fans in the league, and he hopes they’re out in full force for playoffs.
“I’d love to see a huge crowd here come Sunday and absolutely scare the [crap] out of Okanagan,” he said.
The crowd support is only one aspect of home-field advantage, pointed out Pirates outfielder Liam Goodall.
“We don’t have to travel and the other team’s coming in here and they’re tired,” he said. “And they’re intimidated by us being in first.”
The Pirates won’t go in overconfident. Rogers said the A’s are a scrappy and intense group, and his players are preparing for a challenge.
“It will be a good series; it will probably be one of the best series,” said Joey Sabo, Pirates third baseman. “They match up well against us, we match up well against them.”
GAME ON … The Pirates and Athletics play Sunday (July 24) at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Serauxmen Stadium. Game 3 of the best-of-three series, if necessary, will be Monday at noon. Admission is $5 for a doubleheader or $3 for a single game … This article is Part 2 of the Bulletin’s premier Pirates playoff preview. To read Part 1, please click here.