By Len Nunes

The playoff run to becoming the West Division Champions last season for our Edmonton Prospects started in Okotoks. Sunday afternoon the Dawgs extracted a little bit of revenge for unceremoniously having their year cut short in 2016 with a come from behind 9-6 win.

Our Prospects would open the scoring with 2-out in the first when Erik Sabrowski singled home Jake Lanferman. Lanferman had reached base by getting hit by a pitch and then stole second base to put himself into scoring position. Australian Michael Gahan would drive in Sabrowski to build up a 2-0 lead.

Prospects starting pitcher Taran Oulton’s first baserunner allowed was former Prospect Kody Funderburk to lead off the second inning. Funderburk would come around to score the first of three runs allowed in the bottom of the second giving the Dawgs a 3-2 lead. Oulton would pitch strong 3rd and 4th innings but would not be able to collect an out in the 5th before being removed the game, more on that in a moment.

Anthony Cusati would hit a 1-out 2-run double in the top of the 3rd inning to put the Prospects back out in front 4-3. In the top of the fifth inning, Caeden Harris and Matt Quartel would each hit RBI singles to grow the Prospects lead to 6-3.

With the score now 6-5 in the bottom of the 5th, Australian Jye Deeble would come in to pitch for the Prospects inheriting two runners with no out. Unfortunately both Dawgs runners would come around to score putting the bad guys up 7-6. Deeble would stay in the game and pitch scoreless 6th and 7th innings.

Dawgs relief pitcher Tyler Burdett would mystify Prospects batters for his three innings on the mound to close out the game while the Dawgs offense would score two insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th.

Play of the Game: In the bottom of the 7th with the score 7-6 in favour of the Dawgs, a 1-6-3 double play by our Prospects defense would prevent an insurance run scoring from third base.

Player of the Game:  Erik Sabrowski finished the night 2-for-5 at the plate and drove in the first run of the game for our Prospects.

Next game:  Tuesday in Fort McMurray 7:35PM

Next home game: Thirsty Thursday versus the Okotoks Dawgs 7:05PM


Prospects Start Season With Big Win

By Len Nunes

The RE/MAX Field era for your defending West Division Champion Edmonton Prospects started off with quite a bang Friday night versus the Brooks Bombers. The pre-game thunder heard from the heavens above was replicated repeatedly throughout the ballgame by our Prospects’ bats leading them to a 10-1 win.

The Prospects would twice load the bases in the 1st inning and cash in two runs. Collecting the first RBI of the season with a single would be newcomer Marion McLean.  One batter later, the returning Erik Sabrowski would bring home another Prospects' veteran Nick Spillman with a sacrifice fly.

The bases would once again get drunk in the 2nd inning and again McLean would earn another RBI this time drawing a walk.

Heading into the third inning Prospects starting pitcher Noah Gapp had gone a perfect 6-up-6-down. The only run he would allow would come in this frame when the Bombers' Ashton Ray would hit a 1-out double and come around to score on an error. Gapp would go the distance in the season opener spreading out only 4 hits and striking out fourteen (14!) batters! Gapp definitely showed why he is garnering some consideration in the upcoming MLB Draft on June 12.

One of the longest tenured Edmonton Prospects Derek Shedden would bring home rookie Prospect  Travis Ouellet in the bottom of the 3rd to give the home team a 4-1 lead.

The offence would explode in the bottom of the 5th ballooning the lead to 8-1. Jake Lanferman would come up with the bases loaded and promptly empty them with a double. McLean would continue his big night at the plate by driving in Lanferman.

Zane Takhar and Spillman would collect RBI singles in the bottom of the 6th to bring us to our 10-1 final score.

Play Of The Game: After only being able to build a 3-run lead with multiple bases loaded situations, which allowed the visiting Bombers to hang around, the 3-RBI double by Jake Lanferman in the 5th inning put this game out of reach.

Player of The Game: Noah Gapp. A complete game, 14 K performance makes him the obvious choice. He threw 83 of 107 pitches for strikes which included striking out the side in the 4th inning.

Next game:  Sunday June 4th in Okotoks

Next home game at RE/MAX Field:  Thursday June 8th vs Okotoks. Thursday nights are once again Thirsty Thursday’s!

SATELLITE CLINICS - The experts come to you!

These clinics are available in May, June and July. Our coaches will come to your community and customize the right program for your team or association. $500 - 2 hours (maximum 20 participants - Extra players $25 each)

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These clinics are available before a number of Prospect evening games from 4-5pm. Involve your team in our pre-game warm-up with Prospect coaches and players. Teams will participate in the Opening Ceremonies and receive 15 child tickets and 2 adult tickets to that evening's game. $200

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*Cancellations for Clinics need a minimum of 1 month's notice or fee is forfeited.  Previous to that deadline, there is a $25 Administration Charge

Dan Barnes mug shot



Fans find their seats for the Edmonton Prospects and Regina Red Sox Western Major Baseball League game at Telus Field on June 7, 2015. (Perry Mah)

The clock is still ticking on Edmonton's river valley ball yard, but it's been harder to hear lately, drowned out by joyful noise.

The Edmonton Prospects, who took over as leaseholders 10 months ago and are desperate to prove the ball yard's relevance, scratched and clawed their way to the Western Major Baseball League championship series last summer and that glorious run certainly livened up the joint.

The college kids played their last home game Aug. 13, but the park didn't go dark. Prospects owner Patrick Cassidy, who couldn't be more dedicated to keeping the bulldozers at bay, said there were 60 other bookings on his facility's calendar – corporate and charity slo-pitch games and barbecues and the like. The Folk Fest folks were in there, so too some television production companies.

He also signed eight-month lease deals with Vimy Ridge Baseball Academy and the fledgling University of Alberta Baseball Club, ensuring there's activity year round.

The 30 Vimy Ridge kids were in there five days a week in the fall, now three days a week during winter, but will go back to a Monday to Friday schedule. When the 30 University of Alberta kids aren't on the road – they're playing in Phoenix now and heading for Las Vegas – they're at the park from Monday through Saturday.

Local baseball lifer Mark Randall runs both enterprises, and is determined to build a development system that moves players from Vimy to the U of A, to the Prospects and eventually minor pro. But there's a much bigger picture in his head.

"The whole purpose of this venture from my end, really, is to save the facility," Randall said Thursday. "I know that having kids down there running around the stadium on a daily basis is going to help the cause."

Cassidy signed a four-year-plus-option deal with the City last spring and it represents the last and best hope for baseball. If the Prospects fail in their multi-pronged mission to provide an entertaining product, tend the game's grassroots and open the facility to the wider community, the land could be repurposed for condominiums.

"We're trying to keep the bulldozers parked up on the hill there," said Cassidy. "Part of our mandate was, prove to us that this building is relevant and has a future.

"I think we're going to be successful. We had a good year last year. We put over 40,000 people in the ball park."

The Prospects drew 38,226 fans for 21 regular season dates and another 7,940 for five playoff tilts as they upset the Okotoks Dawgs and Medicine Hat Mavericks en route to the league championship, where they fell to the Swift Current Indians. That gave them a year-long average of 1,775, second only to Okotoks in the 12-team loop.

Cassidy wants to build on last year's momentum by staging half a dozen special events that could attract perhaps 5,000 people nightly, as they do on Canada Day, when the park offers a great view of the fireworks. With more than 9,000 seats available, there is no urgency to buy season tickets. About 95 per cent of their crowd is walkup and they need to constantly beat the drum.

To that end, they reached out to the public with their inaugural gala at Fort Edmonton Park on Feb. 11. With former major leaguer and current Sportsnet analyst Gregg Zaun as keynote speaker, it was a modest affair but the team is gaining momentum in the corporate community.

"You keep feeling it, more and more companies jumping on board," said Cassidy. "Actions speak louder than words, they've got to put their money where their mouths are, and they're doing it."

So are the Prospects. This week, they started putting in a new electronic scoreboard, replacing a relic that had been there since Day 1, according to Cassidy.

"I think it might have been built in 1923," he laughed. "Instead of that Lite-Brite board with burnt-out lights, and only one or two colours, it will be more like a television. It's going to be a lot clearer, more functional. It's something that needed to be done.

"We're also looking at maybe putting new stadium lights in, not so much because we need new lighting and the players are struggling to see the ball – although they will use that excuse when they drop one – moreso because the existing lights are old technology and there is an issue with the amount of transmission and distribution we have to pay every month."

He said new lights could save the club about $75,000 to $100,000 per year on power.

He's already signed a new food provider – Prairie Catering will unveil a signature Edmonton-sourced hotdog this year – and has a deal pending for a naming rights sponsor. It's an international sales and marketing company boasting 3,000 agents in the Edmonton area, he said.

If the name is approved by City Council, the ball yard will finally have a new identity, and it will be a mouthful. The name of the corporate sponsor, which he wouldn't divulge, will be followed by Field and Entertainment Centre.

Given all that's going on down there these days, it sounds about right.

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