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.


Things Are Looking Up
By John Short

Jake Gehri and Javier Ramirez combined for six hits and five runs-batted-in Friday night to pace the Edmonton Prospects to a 10-1 victory over the Melville Millionaires. Gehri’s three hits included a triple and a double while Ramirez included a two-base hit among his total.

In boosting their winning streak to three in a row, the Prospects scored early and late – four runs off losing pitcher Tyler Price in the first inning and three in the late innings against an array of relievers. Continuing to fight back from a recent six-game skid, Edmonton played one of its few home games this season in excellent conditions. More than 2,400 fans celebrated almost every offensive move in the one-sided result at RE/MAX Field.

The only Melville tally came against winning pitcher Trever Berg, whose tidy seven-inning start left room for Scott Gillespie and Zach Harrington to mop up with one shutout inning apiece.

Infielders Brendan Luther and Davis Pratt got the Prospects off to a quick start with a pair of lead-off singles and both came around to score on well-stroked singles by Gehri and Ramirez. Travis Hunt, who reached on a two-base throwing error, also crossed the plate.

Gehri’s run-scoring double came immediately after a Nolan Walker two-bagger in the third inning. Left fielder Zach Thomas, playing his first Western Canadian Baseball League game, earned an RBI with a single to score Gehri. Late in the game, Thomas distinguished himself with a terrific throw from left field to down a Melville player trying to stretch a single into a double.

Hunt, Walker and Ramirez all singled in the three-run seventh inning, in which Gehri, the Prospects starting catcher, added a key base on balls. The final Edmonton tally was registered by Pratt when Gehri rifled a triple deep to right field with two out in the eighth.


2 In A Row For The Prospects!
By John Short

Jake McDonald’s third single of the night was enough for the Edmonton Prospects to defeat the Swift Current 57's 5-4 in 11 innings Thursday night, earning their second victory in a row after a painful six-game losing streak.

The outfielder slapped the ball into left field with two out, scoring Nolan Walker with the decisive run in a gritty Prospects performance that at one time saw them trailing by four runs. Walker moved to second on an error by shortstop Kiel Krumwiede and scored without a close play at the plate when Brendan Luther also singled off losing pitcher Aaron Pugh.

Once again relying on the “big” inning, Edmonton managed to string hits and team speed and a costly error – this one by Swift Current’s Ryan Magdic – to create the four-run fifth inning that erased the early deficit. McDonald’s single started it, then Tanner Roundy was hit by a pitch and Pierce Blohowiak’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Luther’s single plated McDonald and Davis Pratt’s single did the same for Luther. The Magdic error accounted for the only unearned run of the inning.

Brilliant relief pitching by Edmonton-area product Jesse Poniewozik was the mound salvation for the Prospects. Forced to replace starter Matt Erikson threw 7 1/3 shutout innings and left with the score tied at 4.

Promising San Diego pitcher David Wylie, Edmonton’s third of the night, showed well – again – in short relief to gain the victory.

An error by catcher Jake Gehri was a factor in Erikson’s early troubles. Elvin Alamo reached second on the two-out miscue in the first inning and came home on Tanner Holen’s single. A pair of walks extended the inning until Toby Allred’s single provided two more Swift Current runs.

Krumwiede singled and came around to score the final 57's run in the second inning. From then on Poniewozik and Wylie controlled the Swift Current bats.

Next for the Prospects, who moved within four games of .500 in Western Conference standings, is a three-game series starting tonight (Friday) against the Eastern Conference’s Melville Millionaires.


Power and Pitching - Perfect Pair
By John Short

For as long as baseball records have been kept, there has been evidence that power and pitching are the only foolproof combination in the sport.

The Edmonton Prospects put that perfect pairing into practice Wednesday, downing the Swift Current 57's 4-2 behind Hunter Boyd’s route-going seven-hit performance and one home run apiece by Jake McDonald, Javier Ramirez and Nolan Walker.

McDonald’s blast in the second was followed in the seventh by circuit shots from the bats of the other two.

Only one run was not tied to a homer: singles by Edgar Harrell, Tyler Maskill and Tanner Roundy in the fourth provided a 2-0 Prospects margin that lasted until a Walker error and a single by Breyden Eckout scored Kiel Krumwiede and erased Boyd’s shutout in the sixth inning.

Another error, this one by Maskill, let Krumwiede reach second in the eighth inning and he scored on single by Ryan Magdic. Both of Swift Current’s runs were unearned as Boyd continued his season-long run of excellent hurling, highlighted by his impressive start Sunday when West downed East 5-4 in the first-ever Western Canadian Baseball League All-Star Game.

Losing pitcher Logan Garza and a pair of relievers were touched by 11 Edmonton hits. They combined for 11 strikeouts.

In his tidy effort, Boyd gave up seven hits and only two walks. He fanned five Swift Current batters, once again keeping his pitch count under thorough control.

The victory ended a painful six-game losing streak for the Prospects and kept them firmly in reach of a Western Conference playoff berth.

A Pitching Fiesta!
By John Short
A two-out error by shortstop Javier Ramirez in the 10th was extremely costly Tuesday as the Edmonton Prospects bowed 3-2 to the Swift Current 57's for their sixth loss in a row. Ramirez bobbled a ball hit by Braden Eckout as Alex Stinnett scored from second base.
It was the third error for Ramirez and came after Jackson Bandow, Edmonton’s third pitcher of the inning, appeared to have escaped from a jam started by Stinnett’s single off Haden Dow after he relieved Brandon Owens. The brief stint left Dow to absorb the defeat.
The effective Owens pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, including six strikeouts, after Austin Cannedy had also been sharp through his six-inning start. A walk by Toby Allred, followed by a stolen base and a sacrifice fly, gave the 57's a lead in the first inning. Allred added an unearned run in the fifth, reaching on a Ramirez error and scoring on Kiel Krumwiede’s sacrifice fly.
Edmonton responded with unearned runs against starting pitcher Zach Patterson one inning later. Travis Hunt walked, Ramirez was safe on an error and Nolan Walker hammered a two-run double. Patterson finished with nine strikeouts and his followers, Graeme Cherry and Diego Jordan, each produced two scoreless innings to put the win in Jordan’s file.
Stinnett collected three of Swift Current’s six hits, while Ryan Magdic had a pair. No Prospect had more than one of Edmonton’s six hits; Brendan Luther and Eric Crain earned one safety apiece and shared the team’s two bases on balls.