Another Long Game
By John Short

If nothing else, the Edmonton Prospects can be counted on for extremely long games – so far, anyway – in the Western Canadian Baseball League.

After a one-run extra-inning marathon loss that extended for nearly five hours last week, the Prospects went through more than four hours of wide-open scoring before they bowed 13-12 to the Medicine Hat Mavericks.

Medicine Hat’s first three batters – Collin Klingensmith, Nolan Rattai and Austin Sojka – were outstanding. They combined for 10 of the 15 Maverick hits and shared 10 runs along with four runs-batted-in, all by Sojka. Rattai scored the winning run in the eighth on a two-out wild pitch.

Newcomer Brendan Luther and Beaux Guilbeau were Edmonton’s offensive leaders. Guilbeau whacked a homer and a sacrifice fly for four RBIs; Luther drew four bases on balls and scored four runs.

Each team was guilty of misplays on defence. Jackson Bandow, the first reliever after Austin Cannedy started, was charged with three unearned runs in the fifth inning on a two-error by Nolan Walker.

Obviously, the stretch of long and high-scoring games has taken a toll on Prospects pitchers. Medicine Hat scored in six separate innings, including a total of 10 runs between the first and fifth. Edmonton’s biggest inning was the six-run fourth, enough to create a temporary 9-4 lead. Javier Ramirez and Luther led off with walks and Edgar Harrell’s base on balls later loaded the bases with two out. Jake Gehri and Walker plated the runners with singles before Guilbeau launched a three-run homer, his first of the season.

Medicine Hat closed the gap with three runs in the bottom of the inning and took the lead with three more in the fifth. From that point, runs and runners were common for both teams.


Decisive Victory
By John Short

Third baseman Edgar Harrell slammed a double and a home run in his second game as an Edmonton Prospect, driving home four runs to pace his new team to an 11-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Mavericks Friday night.

His biggest blow was a three-run shot in the sixth inning, but by by then the Prospects had already opened a four-run lead. Medicine Hat’s only scores came in the eighth on a three-run homer off starting and winning pitcher Hunter Boyd, who gave up only one walk and fanned six before stepping out for Haden Dow’s perfect ninth inning of relief.

The victory marked a big step away from the recent slump, mostly in road games, that dropped Edmonton below .500 in Western Canadian Baseball League standings. Tanner Roundy and Travis Hunt – the outfielder continues to keep his average over .400 – each drove in a pair of runs. Jake MacDonald scored three runs and versatile Beaux Guilbeau, still locked at less than .200 despite a handful of line drives that have failed to fall in, showed major signs of breaking out. Included was a timely triple as he collected three welcome hits.

A Javier Ramirez single, an error on Roundy’s infield grounder and Hunt’s sacrifice fly in the third inning provided the earliest scoring against Mavericks starter Evan Sutta. The Prospects added two more in the fourth – the  Guilbeau triple was a key – and wound up their scoring with two in the seventh.

Singles by Collin Klingensmith and Nolan Rattai put them on base for the long Rodriguez homer in the eighth that ended another solid start by Edmonton’s reliable Boyd.


A Long Night!
By John Short

A two-out, bases-loaded single by John Velasco in the 16th inning gave the Medicine Hat Mavericks a 4-3 marathon victory over the Edmonton Prospects in the longest game of the young season – approximately five hours – in the Western Canadian Baseball League.

Velasco slapped the ball into the outfield to score Nolan Rattai after Zac Harrington, Edmonton’s fifth pitcher, handed Colton Wright an intentional pass after an earlier walk to Rattai and a single by Sal Rodriguez.

 Scoring was rare but base runners were not. Edmonton’s pitchers and the five used by Medicine Hat survived two-out emergencies in virtually every inning after the regulation nine had been completed. Harrington, for example, left the sacks packed in the 13th, his first inning after taking over after an effective stint by David Wylie, touched for only one hit and one walk in four relief innings. Equal to Wylie – and perhaps superior in some ways – was Derek Eubanks, who also found key pitches when he needed them, going five innings without yielding a run.

The most dangerous stretch for him came in the 14th, when singles by incoming third baseman Brendan Luther and Travis Hunt, followed by an error on Eric Crain’s grounder, left the bases loaded with one out for the dangerous Jake Gehri, who entered the game hitting more than .300 and leads Edmonton in homers and runs-batted in. Gehri worked the count to 3-and-2, then ended the threat when Eubanks forced a ground ball that became a crippling double play.

Starters Owen Steele of Medicine Hat and Trever Berg of the Prospects were both effective. Brendan Owens was cracked for a two-run homer by Sal Rodriguez moments he took over for Jesse Poniewozik in the eighth inning. Walks by newcomer Edgar Harrell and pinch-hitter Beaux Guilbeau in the ninth inning became the third and tying Prospects run on a sacrifice fly by Pierce Blohowiak.

Individual batting averages for both teams took a beating. Gehri and Crain each went 1-for-8 for the Prospects. Lead-off man Freddy Walker had identical numbers for Medicine Hat. Luther made his Edmonton debut at second base and had three hits, one fewer than the four collected by Hunt. A handful of Mavericks had two hits apiece.

Edmonton batters were fanned 17 times. The Mavericks went down on strikes 12 times.

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.