PORT ANGELES — Despite being one of the smallest markets in the West Coast League, the Port Angeles Lefties finished in the top half of the league in attendance.
According to attendance figures from the league, the Lefties averaged an attendance of 1,199 per game for a total attendance of 31,169, good for seventh out of 16 franchises in the league.
“We could’ve been dramatically higher than that if not for a wet June,” said owner Matt Acker.
Acker said one thing people can expect next year is that a lot of this year’s players plan to return to play for the Lefties again in 2023. He said teams that build that kind of cohesion have a history of success in the WCL.
“Instead of four of five guys from past years, people can expect to see nine or 10,” Acker said. “We have much higher expectations for next year.”
Every team ahead of the Lefties was in a considerably bigger community. The West Coast League expanded considerably this season, with some new teams in big cities in the Pacific Northwest.
Portland, with a metro area of 3.2 million, led the league with an average attendance of 3,011.
Edmonton, a new team drawing from a metro area of 1.4 million, averaged 2,342 in attendance.
The other cities ahead of the Lefties were Bellingham (1,931), Victoria, B.C. (1,919), Bend, Ore. (1,341) and Corvallis, Ore. (1,819). All of those are cities with more than 60,000 in population.
Trailing the Lefties in attendance were new franchise Nanaimo, B.C. (1,094), Ridgefield (1,039), Walla Walla (969), Kelowna (947), Yakima Valley (860), Wenatchee (795), new team Kamloops, B.C. (760), Cowlitz (589) and new team Springfield, Ore. (210).
The Lefties’ attendance for nine nonleague games was 976, again in the upper half among teams in the league. Interestingly, the high-attended game all year for the Lefties was a nonleague game against the Redmond Dudes on July 21, which brought in a whopping 3,623 people to Civic Field.
On the field, the Lefties finished 20-34 overall. They were 11-15 in the first half and 9-19 in the second half.
They did have a nice run late in the second half, going 6-2 in league play at one point and remaining alive for the postseason into the final week of season.
The Lefties were last in the league in scoring with 213 runs scored. They were 13th in hitting at .236, but they didn’t have big power numbers, hitting 14 home runs, last in the league.
The Lefties’ pitching was a strong point, finishing ninth in the league with a staff ERA of 4.98 and third in the league in strikeouts with 450, not far from league leader Bellingham at 482.
“I liked our pitching staff. We definitely had some arms come through here,” Acker said.
In fact, the Lefties’ Liam Paddack, a sophomore at Spokane Falls Community College, led the entire WCL in strikeouts with 50 in just 36 innings pitched. Paddack had an ERA of 2.50 and went 2-1 on the season.
Trey Maeker (Fordham) was seventh in the league in strikeouts, even though he was used primarily as a reliever and pitched just 28⅔ innings. He racked up 43 strikeouts, went 3-0 with two saves and had an ERA of 2.51.
John Pfeffer (Cal State, San Bernardino) had a good season for the Lefties, going 1-1 with an ERA of 2.31 and 38 strikeouts (12th in the WCL) in 35 innings.
Andrew Hauck (Utah Valley) led the Lefties in victories with five, good for second in the WCL. Hauck also led the team in saves with three. He went 5-2 and had an ERA of 4.50.
Zane Petty (Texas Tech) only pitched in four games early in the season, but struck out 13 in 13⅔ innings and had an ERA of 2.63. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in July.
Kole Acker, a Port Angeles Roughrider and member of the Wilder Baseball Club, pitched in three nonleague games, allowing zero runs and winning a game. He allowed just one hit in three innings.
At the plate, several Lefties had solid seasons.
Adam Paganelli (Sacramento Community College) flirted with .400 for much of the season. He entered the final few games of the season with a .398 batting average. He slumped a little over his final four games, but still ended up hitting .351 (39-for-111). He also stole nine bases. He would have been among the league leaders in batting average if he had a few more at-bats.
Riley Parker (Cal State, San Bernardino) had a great season for the Lefties, hitting .318 (49-for-154) with 11 doubles and 36 RBIs, good for sixth in the league.
“I expected Riley Parker to be good, I didn’t expect that,” Acker said of the former Bellingham Bell. “He had an ax to grind. He had something to prove.”
BY Choi (New Mexico Military Institute) led the team in home runs with four and runs with 22. He hit .281, but walked 24 times for an on-base percentage of .385.
Port Angeles’ Ethan Flodstrom, now at Tacoma Community College, hit .250 but walked 22 times for an OBP of .388. He also went 5-for-11 in nonleague games and hit two home runs on the season.
Former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, who is retired from football, had a nice, if short, stint with the Lefties. Tate, who played college baseball at Notre Dame, hit .263 in five games with two doubles and three RBIs.