After 30 innings of baseball over roughly 24 hours, the Whalley Chiefs finished the weekend exactly where they started.
The B.C. Premier Baseball League team won two of four games against the Okanagan Athletics last weekend, finishing the weekend with a 15-9 win-loss record to remain in third place, three and one-half games back of the first-place North Shore Twins.
“Four-game weekends are a challenge for sure. If your starters don’t complete a game, then you end up using guys in short relief on back-to-back days,” said Chiefs head coach Ernie Hawkins. “We’re a little light in the pen right now due to a couple guys on the (injured list), which made this weekend even more of challenge to manage the arms.”
Already facing the prospect of a busy weekend of baseball, the Chiefs were taken to extra innings in the first game before winning 2-1. Thomas Espig eased the strain on the pitching staff, as he was on the mound for all eight innings, allowing one earned run on four this and a pair of walks while striking out 11 Athletics batters.
The game was scoreless going into the extra inning, and Okanagan scored quickly. A double, single and Chiefs fielding error allowed the Athletics to take a 1-0 lead after the top half of the inning.
Whalley tied the game when Nolan Weger scored from third base on a passed ball and Owen Napieralski doubled to score Jared Alleman from second base.
The Chiefs led for much of Saturday’s second game, taking a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning. The Athletics exploded for eight runs on seven hits to take a lead 9-3 lead.
Stephen Horner with a pair of RBIs and three hits, including a double, and Alleman with two hits paced the Whalley offense.
Okanagan erased another 3-1 deficit in Sunday’s first game, scoring four times in the first extra inning for a 7-3 victory. Whalley was outhit 13-7. Alleman had a pair of hits and scored one run, with Horner driving in the other two scores on a second-inning single.
In the weekend finale, the Chiefs did all their scoring in the fifth inning, putting the Athletics behind 5-0 with three at-bats remaining. Okanagan chipped away at the deficit, but fell a run short. Horner and Braeden Massignani had a pair of hits each.
“Okanagan is a good team, we had our chances to close them out in Game Two and Three, but didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” said Hawkins. “It would have been nice to gain some ground on the leaders but considering our short bench we’re happy with the split.”
The Chiefs get a break from league play next weekend, before hosting the Blue Jays at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 31 at Whalley Stadium.