A Close Call by John Short

The Lethbridge Bulls collected four singles in the home half of the ninth inning Friday night – and needed all of them to edge the Edmonton Prospects 2-1 in a Western Canadian Baseball League pitching duel before about 1,400 fans.

Catcher Roger Riley, the first hitter faced by reliever Brandon Owens, slapped the decisive blow into left field to score speedy pinch-runner Nick Ankermann with two out, pinning the loss on starter Hunter Boyd who went 8 2/3 impresssive innings before head coach Jordan Blundell removed him. Ankermann stepped in after for Ashton Roy who singled with two out, went to second on a single by Dylan Borman and a slapper to left by Grant Kerry before Riley’s late heroics.

The other Bulls run was a homer by Kaleb Warden in the sixth inning. He entered the game with a lofty .406 batting average and it was his only eight of eight yielded by the reliable Boyd.

Warden’s circuit clout also came with two out and matched Edmonton’s run in the top of the sixth, when Jake Gehri doubled and scored on a single by Javier Ramirez.

Lethbridge starter Logan Bexten matched Boyd almost pitch-for-pitch during his seven innings before Chase Florendine came on in the seventh inning. Both of the mound beginners kept pitches to a minimum, with Boyd fanning four and Lethbridge collecting nine strikeouts against the Prospects, three of them against first baseman Nolan Walker.

The hot-hitting Ramirez had three hits and Gehri two to lead Edmonton offensively. The loss left Edmonton narrowly behind fourth-place Fort McMurray in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot. With the victory, Lethbridge remained the closest challenger to first place Okotoks.

After being rained out of two scheduled games this week with the Brooks Bombers, the Prospects have not yet announced the makeup dates.