BEND ELKS

League records through the years

Pacific International League

2000 17-13

2001 21-9

2002 17-13

2003 15-15

2004 24-12**

West Coast League

2005 13-23

2006 24-18

2007 23-19

2008 23-19*

2009 25-23*

2010 27-21*

2011 29-25*

2012 24-30

2013 30-24

2014 31-23*

2015 34-16**

2016 21-33

2017 26-28

2018 11-34***

*Made WCL playoffs

**League champion

***Nine league games remaining

Winning is hardly everything in the West Coast League. But in the history of the Bend Elks, who next year will mark the 20th season of the club’s modern iteration, winning HAS been a regular thing.

Until lately, that is.

This year’s Elks, currently mired in a season-worst nine-game losing streak that has them at 11-34 for the season, have clinched a losing overall record with nine league games remaining. That makes three consecutive losing seasons for a franchise that in its first 11 seasons in the WCL, from 2005 to 2015, endured only two losing campaigns in league play (2005 and 2012).

Counting the first five years since the franchise was founded by Jim Richards in 2000 (the team played those seasons in the Pacific International League), the Elks entered this summer with a total of just four losing seasons, plus a break-even ­15-15 record in 2003, the year before they won the league championship in their PIL swan song.

The Elks won another title in 2015, posting a 34-16 record that stands as the franchise’s best winning percentage (.680) in its WCL history. Since then, the team has gone 21-33 in league play in 2016, then 26-28 in 2017.

Of course, winning is not the sole aim of teams in a summer collegiate league such as the WCL, whose primary purpose is the development of young players seeking to hone their skills as they head off to, or back to, their college programs in the fall.

And if Elks fans are turned off by the team’s current last-place standing, it is not evident in the official attendance count. Through 21 home dates entering a six-game homestand that starts Tuesday night, the Elks have drawn an average of 1,116 fans per game. While that ranks eighth in the 11-team WCL and is just half of what the league’s attendance leaders, the Victoria HarbourCats, are drawing this season (2,239 per game), it is more than the team averaged for the regular season in all of 2017 (1,059) and 2016 (1,105), and even in the championship summer of 2015 (1,017).

The Elks are destined to miss the WCL playoffs for a third straight year — matching the franchise-high streak set in 2005-07. But they can still finish strong against some of the league’s top teams, starting with a three-game home series against the South Division-leading Portland Pickles that opens Tuesday night.

Counting four nonleague games following the WCL regular season, 10 of the Elks’ remaining 13 games are at Genna Stadium. So if the 2018 team has any home-field mojo — eight of Bend’s 11 wins this season have come at home — maybe that mojo will help the Elks close out a disappointing season on a winning note.

— Reporter, 541-383-0359, bbigelow@bendbulletin.com

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