Loss In Okotoks
By John Short

Tristan Peters, Jaxon Valcke and Liam Rihela combined for nine runs and scored 6 runs Thursday as the Okotoks Dawgs flattened the Edmonton Prospects 11-6 in a Western Canadian Baseball League game before about 2,300 fans.

Leadoff man Peters collected four hits and played a prominent role in most Okotoks rallies. Valcke had two doubles among his three hits and Rihela provided a two-run homer. In all, Okotoks piled up 11 hits, compared with four for the Prospects.

Once again, Edmonton’s starting pitching was victimized in the early going. Starter Matt Erikson gave up two runs in each of the first two innings, starting with a doubles by Valcke and Peters around a walk to Brett Esau. One inning later, a walk to Davis Todosichuk and a Peters single led to more difficulty. Erikson was charged with five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

Biggest inning for Okotoks was the seventh. Hadon Dow, the third Edmonton pitcher, was hit for four unearned runs. After a two-out error by shortstop Javier Ramirez opened the door, Jordan Mambuje’s double was a key blow.

The Prospects managed only four hits and fanned 11 times in seven impressive innings by Dawgs starter Nolan Ruff.

A three-run homer by Travis Hunt scored Katsu Takahashi and Eric Crain in the fourth inning. Edmonton also scored three in the eighth, Takahashi and Pierce Blohowiak were doubled home by Crain, who later scored on a wild pitch.


Giants Come Back!
By John Short
Hometown hurler Tyler Hodder turned in a useful middle-innings relief stint Wednesday as the Fort McMurray Giants evened their midweek Western Canadian Baseball League series with a 6-3 victory over the visiting Edmonton Prospects.
Hodder took over from starter Jordan Williams in the fourth inning and pitched well until Tucker Sorenson was needed to end a promising Prospects surge in the eighth. Tristian Richardson’s ninth-inning effort, after the Giants scored their sixth run, gave no hope to the Prospects: he fanned slumping batters Beaux Guilbeau and Tanner Roundy to earn the save.
In keeping with their recent trend, the Giants started quickly against Prospects opener Andrew Lowe, with a run in each of the first three innings. Richard Ortiz plated Max Hewitt for the first run and Lowe’s three bases on balls contributed to Fort McMurray’s second run. In the third, another walk, this one to Ortiz, enabled the Giants to pad their total.
Edmonton’s first run, in the third inning, was built on a walk and a double that scored Javier Ramirez. The only significant rally by the Prospects came in the eighth when a single by Ramirez and doubles by Eric Crain and Travis Hunt forced Sorenson to the hill long enough to retire the only batter he faced.
Every Prospects pitcher gave up at least one run. Head coach Jordan Blundell needed Brendan Owens, Jackson Bandow and Sherwood Park’s Scott Gillespie in relief after Lowe issued five walks in 2 2/3 innings.
Hunt kept his average in the neighbourhood of .400 as the Prospects collected only five hits. Each team fanned eight times in a game that started late because of wet playing conditions. Ortiz and Eric Meyer had two hits apiece in Fort McMurray’s nine-hit attack.

Exciting Win
By John Short
Finally swinging their bats with authority, the Edmonton Prospects struck for four runs in the ninth inning Tuesday night and walked off with a 5-2 victory over the Fort McMurray Giants.
They trailed by one run and had one out in the ninth when pesky outfielder Pierce Blohowiak slapped a single against Samuel Vargas and stole second moments before Katsu Takahashi worked Vargas for a base on balls. Travis Hunt’s single then scored Blohowiak and moved Takahashi to third. A steal of third by Hunt also figured in the inning.
Brennan Hatten entered in relief against Nolan Walker and watched two runners score on a sharp single. The outburst ended when Jake Gehri doubled Walker home.
Solid pitching by David Wylie in the ninth inning saved the victory. Gunner Rainey touched him for a lead-off double and Brody McGrath singled. With the potential tying run at the plate, Wylie retired B.J. Minarcin on an infield grounder and forced Peyton Crispin and Joe Maesta to end the inning by popping to the infield.
A double by Walker chased Blohowiak with the other Prospects run in the fifth inning.
Eric Meyer’s lead-off triple gave the Giants a 1-0 lead before the Trappers came to bat in the first and an infield error allowed Tanner Hess to give the home team a one-run lead again in the sixth after the Prospects tied the game briefly.
Both teams benefited from good pitching. Meyer and Max Hewitt led Fort McMurray with two hits apiece. The pitching win went to Zac Harrington. For the Giants, Canadian prospects Will Langford and Ryan Moroz controlled the Edmonton bats for six innings; the pesky Blohowiak finished with three hits and Hunt had a pair.
With the victory, Edmonton improved its record to 10 wins and eight losses, third in the Eastern Division behind the Okotoks Dawgs and Lethbridge Bulls. Fort McMurray’s record dropped to 6 and 10.



Close Call
By John Short

Pecking away for 15 hits, the Fort McMurray Giants built a large early lead against the Edmonton Prospects Sunday afternoon and held on for an 8-6 victory before a large and enthusiastic Father’s Day crowd at RE/MAX Field.

With the win, Fort McMurray atoned for a 6-2 defeat on Saturday night and set the stage for some interesting events when the two teams meet again Tuesday to start a 2-game series in the Fort.

Third baseman Eric Meyer and first-sacker Tanner Hess led the Giants offence, scoring one run each in the first inning against losing pitcher Taran Oulton and highlighting the five-run fifth with Meyer’s lead-off triple and a following double by Hess. After being tagged for eight hits in 4 1/3 innings, the Edmonton lefty made way for newcomer Brandon Owens, who gave up two singles, threw two misguided pick-off throws and added a wild pitch before the inning ended.

David Wylie and Jackson Bandow completed the afternoon on the hill for the Prospects.

Wylie, in the eighth, provided Edmonton’s only 1-2-3 inning.

Winning pitcher Nick Cardinal also spent much of the afternoon dealing with base runners, stranding nine in six innings. Only in the fourth did he face the minimum three hitters.

The first of two relief innings for Halen Knoll of Edmonton was terrific, but in the eighth a walk to Beaux Guilbeau and a single by Jake Gehri initiated a two-run inning. Gehri was a major factor again in the ninth.

At that point, with one out, he thundered a home run over the left field fence, scoring Pierce Blohowiak and Travis Hunt ahead of him. The three-run blast prompted head coach Ray Brown to go back to the bullpen for Tris Richardson, a Michigan product who also is listed on the roster as an outfielder.

The threat ended quickly as Richardson retired the next two batters in order.




Downs and Ups
By John Short
Everything changed in the bottom of the sixth inning.
At that point, Keith Manby came in to relieve starter Ike Buxton for the Fort McMurray Giants and the Edmonton Prospects responded by scoring four runs, enough to win their first Western Canadian Baseball League game since they played at home last weekend.
The 6-2 victory was constructed on eight solid innings on the mound by Hunter Boyd and walks by Nolan Walker and Beaux Gilbeau ahead of run-scoring hits by Jake Gehri and Tyler Maskill. Gehri’s double provided two RBIs, boosting, his team-top total to 10 in the young season.
Two more runs came in the eighth when Travis Hunt laced a a double down the left-field line to chase Pierce Blohowiak and Tanner Roundy across the plate.
A two-bagger by Rich Ortiz in the third inning and a successful squeeze bunt by Cam Sanderson in the fourth accounted for the Giants runs.
It was the third consecutive top start for Boyd, a Washington State product who served as Edmonton’s Day One starter this season. He escaped serious trouble in the fourth when Davis Pratt made an outstanding play to foil another squeeze attempt.
Relief specialist Trever Berg took over in the ninth.
Shortstop Javier Ramirez’s two errors caused some early issues, but he rebounded with several brilliant defensive plays and was instrumental in three double plays.
As part of their late rally, the Prospects ran wild on the bases, swiping at least seven bases – four of them in the sixth inning.