Tension-Filled Duel
By John Short

Relief pitcher Jon Guardado provided a valuable outing for the Medicine Hat Mavericks Thursday night, striking out the side in the ninth inning to preserve a 3-2 victory over the visiting Edmonton Prospects.

He opened his brief stint by fanning Pierce Blohowiak before walking Prospects lead-off hitter Brendan Luther who got to second base on a wild pitch but was stranded there as Guardado fanned Tyler Maskill and Travis Hunt to end the game.

Before Guardado reached the mound, Brandon Ponticelli, Hunter Cooper, Austin Oulds and Flynn Ridley limited the Prospects to five hits. Ponticelli surrendered both Edmonton runs in the first inning. Maskill scored on a Nolan Walker hit and he later scored on a single by Jake Gehri.

Edmonton starter Matt Erickson was touched for two runs before he left in the sixth inning. Nolan Rattai’s double scored P.J. Garcia in the first and and Taylor Wright squared things in the fifth on a scoring single by Sal Rodriguez. The Mavericks collected eight hits, including two each by Austin Sojka and Russell Strilchuk.

Medicine Hat’s decisive run, in the eighth, started on a walk to John Velasco. He was replaced by pinch-runner Tito Jones, who eventually scored on a bases-loaded walk. Jackson Bandow, Haden Dow, Scott Gillespie and Brandon Owens all pitched for Edmonton in the tension-filled frame. Owens provided the costly base on balls before fanning Wright and Rodriguez and leaving the Prospects needing only one run to stay alive.

Guardado’s top-level performance made sure the run didn’t arrive.