Former Ballpark Mates Battle, Giants Take This Edition
By Len Nunes
The Edmonton Prospects have their "sticks out for Humboldt" in 2018 but two short years ago, the Prospects took supporting another franchise to a new level. The Fort McMurray Giants were forced out of their home even before they threw their first pitch due to wildfires in their hometown. Prospects Managing Partner Patrick Cassidy invited them to play in the Crown Jewel of Edmonton's downtown core now known as RE/MAX Field until they could return to Fort Mac. Last night, Nick Spillman, one of five Prospects on that team, went 2-for-3 with a walk at the plate but it was not enough as the Giants won 4-0.
Giants pitcher Nik Cardinal danced in and out of trouble throughout the contest only pitching one 1-2-3 inning stranding 8 Prospects through his 7 innings. Never mind dancing, Cardinal turned full-on magician in the second inning escaping a 1-out bases loaded jam. Facing the red-hot Anthony Cusati, who got the start tonight at DH instead of catcher, the Giants pitcher was able to field a feeble roller back partway to the mound and throw out the lead runner (Percy Liu) at home. A swinging strikeout for Matt Coutney ended the threat.
Prospects starting pitcher Michael Gahan may have given up three runs and be the pitcher charged with the loss but there were times he was downright dominant on the mound! The native Australian was making his first start of the season with 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings already under his belt. The first runner Gahan allowed on was a 2-out walk in the first inning that he promptly picked off. A hit-batter in the second would come around to score and break up the shutout bid early. The next 9 Giants would be retired in order before Gahan ran into some trouble in the 5th inning.
With 2-on, John Loschiavo would hit a bloop single in front of the diving Percy Liu (only his speed made the play close) to make it 2-0 for the Giants. With runners on first and third and Chris Panzarella at bat, the Giants pulled off a double steal! The throw by Prospects catcher Chris Procopio tailed into the runner at second allowing Mike Bowes to steal home. Gahan would retire the last seven batters he faced leaving the game after seven innings down 3-0.
Jordan Smith come in to pitch the 8th inning for the Prospects allowing the first three Giants he faced to reach base giving up a run. Smith buckled down and got the three outs which included a rundown between first and second and an amazing defensive play by second baseman Aidan Huggins.
The Prospects offence could not find their groove against Giants reliever Nate McKenrick either. In McKenrick's two innings of work only one runner, Procopio via the hit-by-pitch, reached base. This is the first time the Prospects have been shutout on the road since June 29, 2016.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Michael Gahan deserves this honour tonight. The line of 7IP 3R 3H 1W 5K may not pop off the screen but pitching 4 1-2-3 innings is impressive in a generally swing first league.
Wednesday June 6 in Fort McMurray 7:35PM
Friday June 8 – BLUE JAYS DAY – Wear your Toronto Blue Jays gear and bid on in-game autographed Blue Jays memorabilia. The Fort McMurray Giants provide the competition, 7PM start.
Saturday June 9 – CROWN JEWEL NIGHT – Pre-game Community Open House, 7PM first pitch versus the Fort McMurray Giants.