Prospects Keep Climbing
By John Short
Their fourth consecutive win boosted the once-slumping Edmonton Prospects Saturday to within one game of second place in the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Western Division.
Solid pitching by lefty Taran Oulton and a balanced hitting attack carried Edmonton to an 8-3 victory over the Melville Millionaires with more than 2,100 fans enjoying the performance at RE/MAX Field.
Oulton shackled the Millionaires until the seventh inning when they scored all three of their runs – two on a ringing double by Mike Ozga. The clever southpaw yielded five of his 10 hits in that frame, which ended on third baseman Davis Pratt’s diving stop of a ball headed to left field with two out.
In keeping with their recent batting upgrade, the Prospects scored twice in the opening inning on long back-to-back sacrifice flies by Nolan Walker and Jake Gehri. The margin was padded in the second when Pierce Blohowiak sped home from first on a Tanner Roundy double, one of Roundy’s three hits and three runs batted in.
From then until the sixth inning, Oulton and rival starter Chris Lacher kept both offences buttoned down. The change began on a walk to Walker and was followed by Gehri’s single and a two-run Javier Ramirez double. Doubles by Blohowiak and Roundy following a walk to Ramirez completed the Prospects scoring.
Thanks at least in part to excellent baseball weather, both teams flashed impressive defence. Pratt was particularly sharp but teammates provided plenty of help. After yielding one of his two walks, Oulton picked off Dalton Horner in the sixth inning. In the troublesome seventh, Gehri’s rocket throw to second picked off Braeden Dobbs, who finished with three hits.
Melville centre fielder Marquis Irvine provided the most spectacular play of the night. With his back to the wall and close to the fence which is more than 400 feet from home plate, the Detroit product dived headlong for a catch that deprived Walker of a certain triple.
The Prospects introduced another new outfielder, Wetaskiwin product Matt Coutney, but lost starting second-sacker Brendan Luther for at least a short while. After his lead-off bunt single in the first inning, he stepped awkwardly on the bag at first to avoid an attempted pick-off play. Katsu Takahashi came in as a pinch runner for him.