Weary Pitchers Pay The Price
By John Short
The weary relief staff of the Edmonton Prospects performed nobly and well for seven innings in their Western Canadian Baseball League playoff opener with the potent Okotoks Dawgs Thursday night, but the well of energy ran dry in the eighth inning.
As a result, the Dawgs collected five runs in the eighth to create a 7-2 victory in the opener of a best-of-three series. Game two goes tonight at RE/MAX Field in Edmonton.
A fielding error by second baseman Zach Thomas and a single by Jaxon Valcke were followed by a sacrifice bunt that loaded the bases against Matt Erikson, who entered in the third inning and held Okotoks scoreless until he was relieved after this breakthrough. David Wylie, used as the last-gasp late-inning option almost day after day recently, took over again. His weariness showed: singles by Ricardo Sanchez and Liam Rihela turned what had been a close game to a comfortable Okotoks victory.
Dane Tofteland’s single and a similar safety by Sanchez caused a second-inning threat for starter Austin Herrington. After Rihela drove in Tofteland, a terrific relay from right fielder Pierce Blohowiak to shortstop Javier Ramirez was needed for a vital out at third base to end the inning.
Ultimately, four of the Dawgs runs were classed as unearned. They performed without an error on defence.
Hitting against all-star righthander Nolan Ruff, third baseman Tyler Maskill whacked a double in the fifth inning and scored the tying run on a wild pitch. One inning later, Ramirez doubled and came around on a single by Beaux Guilbeau to give the Prospects a 2-1 lead.
Unfortunately for Edmonton fans, it didn’t last. After Ruff kept the Prospects under control until the eighth inning, Brandon Desjardins took the mound for a perfect five-inning relief performance.