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.