Important Victory
By John Short

Atonement was sweet on Tuesday night for the Edmonton Prospects.  Two days after being defeated by the Fort McMurray Giants in both ends of a double-header with a playoff spot on the line for both teams, the Prospects rebounded with a hard-fought 5-4 victory at the home park of the fourth-place Giants, who now own a one-half game edge over their rivals for the fourth and final post-season berth in the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Western Division.

Through the sixth and seventh innings, there were clear signs that doom was in store for the Prospects, who have struggled with terrible weather conditions for home games all season. A two-run double by Peyton Crispin and a sacrifice fly by Tanner Hess followed singles by Cam Sanderson and Max Hewitt were enough to destroy Edmonton’s early three-run lead and chase starting pitcher Trever Berg. In the seventh, Eric Meyer was hit by a pitch and came around to score on Hewitt’s double.

But the Prospects did not fold.

Matt Erickson provided some excellent relief work on the mound and the bats – dormant for much of the season – came to life again. A walk to Travis Hunt and the second double of the game by Javier Ramirez scored the tying run in the eighth inning. In the ninth, versatile Katsu Takahashi drew a walk as the lead-off man, then Nolan Walker hammered a triple to give Edmonton a slight edge once more.

The run was scored against Keith Manby, who has been effective against the Prospects in previous outings.

Erickson, credited with the win, kept the potent Fort McMurray offence under control until the ninth inning, when head coach Jordan Blundell went to David Wylie, the ranking fireman in Prospects gear for most of the season, and he kept the door shut although the potential tying run was on base.

Edmonton’s opening run was generated by Beaux Guilbeau on a single to score Hunt in the first inning. Pierce Blohowiak’s double became the second run in the fifth inning on the first Ramirez two-bagger of the evening.

Oh-oh!  Long Way To Playoffs Now
By John Short

The Fort McMurray Giants did exactly what they planned on Sunday, sweeping a Western Canadian Baseball League double-header from the Edmonton Prospects and taking clear possession of fourth place and the final playoff spot in the Western Division.

It’s fair to say the Giants won both coming and going: they struck for four runs in the first inning of the opening game on the way to an 8-5 win, then wrapped up the nightcap with three runs in the top of the seventh for a 4-1 triumph in the nightcap. At the first pitch of the two seven-inning games, Edmonton held a half-game lead over Fort McMurray for fourth place; at the finish, the Giants had a lead of 1 1/2 games, with the apparent advantage of two games with the Prospects in Fort McMurray Tuesday and Wednesday.

In both Sunday games at RE/MAX Field, the Prospects bats were virtually silent.

The only exception came in the final inning of the opening game when a home run by Jake MacDonald and a triple by Pierce Blohowiak piloted a four-run rally. But the outburst came far too late to overcame an 8-1 margin constructed entirely against Hunter Boyd, who has been the team’s best starter all season.

Max Hewitt, Brady Wood, Richard Ortiz, Chase Adkinson and Peyton Crispin each singled to start the rout. With one or two exceptions, the hits were routine ground balls or looping line drives that simply avoided the Prospects defenders.

Given the early lead, Tyler Hodder pitched to contact and was entirely comfortable until the final inning, which ended when pinch-hitter Jake Gehri, prominent for Edmonton all season with both power and consistency, grounded out with two mates on base.

Faced with the task of winning the nightcap to salvage a split of the twin-bill and keep the Prospects alone in fourth place, lefty Taran Oulton provided a noble effort. Staked to a far-from commanding one-run lead, he scattered four hits through five innings before a two-out walk to Tanner Hess left the door slightly ajar. Gunner Rainey and Crispin followed with quick singles to tie the game before Oulton could retire the side.

Left without relief by head coach Jordan Blundell to start the seventh, Oulton’s weariness became more evident. B.J. Minarcin started the decisive frame with an infield single and scored the ultimate winning run on Hewitt’s long double. Wood’s single scored Hewitt before regular fireman David Wylie entered the game. Hits by Ortiz and Adkinson extended the margin.

Edmonton managed only four hits off left-handed Fort McMurray starter Tucker Sorenson and reliever Keith Manby.

By John Short
Led by the big bat of .400-hitter Tristan Peters, the Okotoks Dawgs continued to stretch their runaway lead in the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Western Division with an 8-0 rout of the Edmonton Prospects, who hold fourth place and the last playoff berth in the Alberta wing of the two-province organization.
Peters rapped a second-inning home run among his two hits in a pair of at-bats. He also scored twice and drove in a pair of runs. The 10-hit Okotoks attack accounted for three runs in each of the first two innings and a pair in the seventh.
Primary victim was little-used Jackson Bandow, whose effort on the mound allowed head coach Jordan Blundell to set ace starters Hunter Boyd and Taran Oulton aside for vital games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon against the Fort McMurray Giants, Edmonton’s closest rival for the last remaining playoff vacancy.
All five runs against Bandow were earned. In relief, Scott Gillespie was charged with one earned run of the three he yielded. Gillespie showed good stuff in his outing with six strikeouts in five innings.
Only Beaux Guilbeau had two hits for the Prospects. Javier Ramirez and Jake Gehri, who each played less than the full game, shared the other two.
Nolan Ruff extended his 2019 WCBL record to seven victories and no losses. After he showed total command for seven innings, a pair of perfect one-inning relief stints completed the powerful Okotoks performance.

 

 

Tough, Cold Night For Prospects
By John Short

The Edmonton Prospects lost both a valuable Canadian pitcher and a rain-shortened Western Canadian Baseball League game at RE/MAX Field Wednesday night before about 1,000 fans.

Clearly, the major loss in the 8-2 defeat by the Medicine Hat Mavericks was right-hander Jesse Poniewozik of nearby Spruce Grove. He left the game in the fourth inning after a line drive by hard-hitting Austin Sojka hit him squarely on the right side of his head. Poniewozik staggered for two or three strides before falling to the turf, apparently unconscious. He stayed down for several minutes before regaining his feet and was escorted to the Prospects dugout by a couple of mates.

He was examined by medical personnel immediately after the frightening incident but no information was available on the extent of the damage. Poniewozik, who leads the Prospects in earned-run average after several outstanding relief performances, was making his first start of the season. He is a student at Okanagan College. (Editor's note: It's positive news for pitcher Jesse Poniewozik. He was sent to hospital.  The CT Scan revealed that he had a mild concussion. He thanks everyone for their concern.)

As the fourth inning started, in chilly and increasing rain, Poniewozik was trying to protect a two-run constructed earlier on singles by Edgar Harrell and Beaux Guilbeau, which scored Tanner Roundy and Pierce Blohowiak. Apart from that promising spurt, Medicine Hat’s Jaymon Cervantes was in near-total control.

A fielding error by shortstop Javier Ramirez soon opened the door for the Mavericks, who shared their scoring evenly in the fourth and fifth innings – four runs each with errors as a major factor. Singles by Collin Klingensmith, Tito Jones and Freddy Walker, along with one of Blohowiak’s two errors in left field, put the Mavericks up by one run before Sojka’s wicked blast off Poniewozik went for a hit and brought relief pitcher Zac Harrington into the game.

The fifth inning was equally productive for the Mavericks. Poniewozik was charged with three earned runs and Harrington with only two.

Rain forced a delay of at least an hour at the top of the sixth inning as Harrell prepared to lead off. Umpires consulted many times with officials of both teams before calling the game at about 10 p.m. The victory kept Medicine Hat alone in third place in the Alberta Conference of the WCBL and Edmonton retained sole possession of fourth spot, a game ahead of the Fort McMurray Giants.

 

All the pieces came together for the Edmonton Prospects Tuesday night as they handled the Medicine Hat Mavericks 9-5 and moved, at least temporarily, into sole possession of fourth place and the final playoff spot in the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Alberta Conference.

Some 2,300 spectators sweltered in extreme heat as they watched the Prospects benefit from solid pitching – especially in relief – while pounding out 14 hits and scoring in every inning from the third through the eighth. Rain interfered briefly in the seventh inning but did not interfere with Edmonton’s momentum.

The win left Edmonton one game ahead of Fort McMurray, with the two teams scheduled to meet at RE/MAX Field in Edmonton Saturday and Sunday.

Entirely welcome was the decision of head coach Jordan Blundell to insert Beaux Guilbeau in left field and Greyson Barrett at first base as he continues to search for consistency throughout the roster. Guilbeau drove in the vital first run with a third-inning triple and contributed a key double in the fifth. Barrett, used sparingly all season, came up with three hits, including a pair of doubles. He also made as many as four outstanding defensive plays, three of them to prevent errors by his teammates and one on a running grab of a foul pop fly early in the game.

Once again, Pierce Blohowiak was a valuable Prospect on offence. His speed led to a bunt single and an infield single as well as a pair of stolen bases as he scored three runs. Of the starters, only centre fielder Tanner Roundy did not have a hit but he earned one run-batted-in on a successful squeeze bunt.

Starting pitcher Austin Cannedy held the Mavericks to one hit through four innings. He also hit three Medicine Hat batters with pitched balls. When Cannedy struggled in the fifth, Blundell went to lefty Matt Erickson for comfort. He walked Taylor Wright to load the bases – three runs had already scored – and fanned catcher Colton Wright and designated hitter Collin Klingensmith to quell the threat.

Brandon Owens and David Wylie pitched the final three innings with no trouble although Wylie made Sal Rodriguez the fourth victim of an inside pitch when he was hit high on the body with two out in the ninth.