Prospects Control Their Own Destiny
By John Short

By sweeping one of the most confusing triple-headers imaginable on Saturday, the Edmonton Prospects settled into sole possession of fourth place in the Alberta division of the Western Canadian Baseball League and gained control of their own playoff destiny with three games remaining in the 2019 regular season.

Not only did the Prospects win three games between noon and 10 p.m., but they did it against two opponents, including a lengthy carryover of a game with the Yorkton Cardinals that was washed out by massive rains on Friday night.

Edmonton’s first victory – 11-2 over Yorkton – was no contest from the beginning. Then came a thrilling seventh-inning rally in the second game that led to a 9-8 victory also over the under-manned but gritty Cardinals. The climax was a 6-5 victory over the Brooks Bombers that ended when relief ace David Wylie protected the narrow margin in the ninth inning.

As the Prospects laboured through their hectic day, the Fort McMurray Giants rebounded from a pair of back-to-back losses against the Medicine Hat Mavericks with a 6-3 victory. Both the Giants and Prospects have three games remaining – Edmonton against Brooks and Fort McMurray against Yorkton. The Prospects boosted their record to within one game of .500 and now lead Fort McMurray by one full game.

If Edmonton increases its current four-game winning streak by going unbeaten through a Sunday doubleheader and a Holiday Monday afternoon single, the Giants will be unable to catch them.

But the stubborn performances by the opponents in games two and three Friday night left the clear possibility of a one-game playoff for the right to face the powerful, first-place Okotoks Dawgs in a best-of-three first-round playoff series.

Edmonton was not troubled in the opening game, which resumed at the bottom of the second inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. By the time the uprising ended, the Prospects had a 4-1 lead, which they expanded with three more runs in the third inning and four in the fourth.

The pitching beneficiary was Tanner Roundy, normally Edmonton’s regular centre fielder. He scattered eight hits and turned in a totally-welcome complete game on the mound. Jake Gehri, Zach Thomas and Travis Hunt contributed in a major way with two hits each.

Gehri and Hunt were even more prominent in the second game, which Yorkton led 7-2 as Edmonton came to bat in the fifth inning.

Hunt’s two-run homer provided a quick left for the Prospects and a wild stretch – two walks and a hit batsman – by reliever Mike Clapperton added a third run. A Cardinals error led to another Edmonton tally in the sixth, leaving the Prospects two runs behind in their last at-bats of the game. A walk to Thomas, a single by Greyson Barrett, another safety by Beaux Guilbeau and lengthy doubles by Hunt and Gehri chased pitcher Payton Harris and left the Prospects needing one more win for the sweep.

It also came with difficulty.

Edmonton starting pitcher Hunter Boyd was handed a three-run lead in the first inning but Brooks pecked away with a single ruin in the second inning and two in the fifth, aided by a costly error at first base. A single by Edgar Harrell and a walk to Pierce Blohowiak, plus a Bombers miscue in left field, gave the Prospects a two-run lead, which was eaten up one inning later.

A walk, two singles and an error on an attempted pick-off forced Edmonton to replace Boyd with Matt Erickson – one of three Yale Eli regulars on the team, including Blohowiak and Gehri. The impressive reliever struck out four of the next five batters – three in the eighth and earned the pitching victory when Tyler Maskill drove home Gehri with what proved the winning run in the bottom half of the frame.

Edmonton’s twin-bill with Brooks features a pair of seven-inning games, scheduled to start  at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.