Edmonton To Host Newly Rebranded WCBL All-Star Game

by Len Nunes

It was a historic day in the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) and the Edmonton Prospects history. League President Kevin Kvame held a press conference the morning of Saturday June 16th at the Chateau Lacombe to make two major announcements. The first being the rebranding of the league. The second being that for the first time since the early 2000's the league would be holding an All-Star Game and it will be held in Edmonton! We are only a quarter of the way into the 2018 season but the excitement for 2019 is already at a fever pitch.

Western Canadian Baseball League

Effective the 2019 season, the league will change their name to the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL). Here's the explanation via their website:

The WMBL feels that now is the time to change, as we continue to be part of this country’s growing baseball image. As more college players look for strong competitive leagues in which to play over their summers, we feel that this new title will better reflect our Canadian identity in order to better interest players to come and experience our League & our nation. Placing the country’s name directly in the new league title hopes to bring additional recognition to Canadian baseball as a whole.

WMBL President Kevin Kvame had this to say about the change, “We are excited about the new name, in that it will highlight the fact that the League’s footprint lies entirely in Canada. We are a baseball showcase for Canada and are proud to bring in fans and players to celebrate our beautiful country. Being in Canada gives us a unique advantage to provide great experiences to not only our homegrown talent, but visiting players as well. The same applies for the fans and community sponsors of the League”

Edmonton To Host 2019 All-Star Game

July 8, 2019! Circle that date on your calendar as that will be when the Prospects host the first WCBL All- Star game. Notes from the league press release:

The League and the Prospects are currently working on the format, timing, additional activities, and logistics for the 2019 All-Star Game and expect to release these details publicly in the coming weeks.

The Edmonton Prospects team owner and managing partner Pat Cassidy stated, “I can’t describe how thrilled we are that they’ve adopted our proposal to bring the WCBL All-Star Game to the great sports city of Edmonton in 2019 & 2020. We know that our fans and baseball community will join with many new fans to make this a must-attend event in Alberta’s capital.”

When President Kvame was asked at the press conference "why Edmonton", his answer began with a list of accolades about RE/MAX Field. A park built to meet the requirements of Triple A baseball (Edmonton Trappers), the Prospects have worked hard to maintain that level.  One of the many great

aspects of being at the park is the view of the new Walterdale Bridge. Such a fantastic site that the Prospects incorporated the bridge into the All-Star Game logo.

More Good News

Not only will Edmonton host the 2019 and 2020 All-Star games, each team in the WCBL will being hosting an extra four home games in 2019. Currently the only league action in August is playoff baseball. With the added games to the schedule, every fan in the league has a chance to watch guaranteed baseball into the sunny month of August.

To watch a replay of the press conference with these announcements, go to @EdmProspects on Twitter.

That Was Bull...Close But No Cigar

By Len Nunes

The seventh inning stretch is a tradition unique to baseball. It's a moment where fans are encouraged to stand up and stretch. At RE/MAX Field fans are asked to sing along to "Take Me Out To The Ball Game". On a rain-soaked Friday that delayed the first pitch by forty minutes, the seventh inning stretch acted as a spark for the home team. The Edmonton Prospects rallied for 7 runs in the bottom of the seventh to take their first lead of the night. The game headed to extra innings where the Prospects were asked to rally one more time but fell short. The Lethbridge Bulls escaped with a 10-9 win.

Prospects fans all knew starting pitcher Taran Oulton was not going to keep his perfect 0.00 ERA that he protected through his first three appearances. Oulton will not use the rain delay as an excuse (but we will) when it comes to the Bulls being able to put up three runs in the top of the first inning. Cruising through the next three innings, Oulton only allowed one hit and had one Bulls player reach on an error. The top of the 5th started with the only two walks he issued throughout the game but he managed to wiggle himself out of trouble only allowing one run. He exited having allowed four runs on six hits in five innings. His new ERA of 1.65 sits 6th best in the WMBL among starters.

Bulls starter Jaden Griffin struggled with control throughout his six innings of work but was only penalized once. Percy Liu drew of one of the six Griffin walks in the bottom of the third inning. Liu was able to advance two bases on a wild pitch then score on a passed ball. Twice the Bulls defence came up with doubleplays to help their starter escape jams. One an around-the-horn doubleplay, the other a fly out that was not hit far enough for AJ Nitzschke to beat the throw home.  We headed into the 7th inning stretch with the Prospects down 5-1 and a change on the Bulls mound.

Kai Poffenroth came into pitch for the Bulls and plunked the first batter he saw in Nitzschke, and then allowed a single to Percy Liu. Daylen Calicdan would bring in Nitzschke and Anthony Cusati would bring home Liu and we had ourselves a 5-3 ballgame. A Tony Olson double made it 5-4 and ended the night for Bulls reliever Poffenroth. The pitching changes did not slow down the Prospects attack. Matt Coutney had a RBI single to tie the game off of Austin Tambellini . Zane Takhar had a RBI double off of Derrick Talon to put the Prospects ahead 6-5. Nitzschke, up for the second time in the inning, made it 7-5 and Liu rounded out the scoring in the bottom of the 7th with a sacrifice fly giving the Prospects an 8-5 lead.

Marion McLean took over on the Prospects mound in the top of the 6th. He allowed the Bulls fifth run of the game but had a 1-2-3 top of the seventh to earn himself the right to protect the newfound lead in the eighth. A lead-off single and a 2-out walk later, Michael Gahan took over on the bump. A walk to the first batter he faced loaded the bases. Hank Forrest hit a triple to right field to clear the bases and tie the game at 8.

Gahan would pitch a 1-2-3 9th inning giving the Prospects their first chance at the walk-off in the bottom of the 9th. A 1-out triple by Liu would be stranded after the Bulls put in their sixth pitcher of the evening.

Prospects Manager Ray Brown gave Brandon Hill the ball in the top of the 10th. Hill struggled his first two appearances and unfortunately the boost of confidence from his manager was not enough. Two walks and a single later, Jordan Smith came into the highest of high pressure situations. Smith struck out the first two batters he faced but Brett Mercier hit a ball into play that scored two runs making it 10-8 Bulls.

Cusati and Olson both drew walks to start the bottom of the 10th. Cusati would score on an error making it 10-9 but that is where the good news ends. With the clock reading 11:42PM, the remaining RE/MAX Field faithful went home consoling themselves with the fact the Prospects get to try again Saturday night against these same Lethbridge Bulls to snap this now 4-game losing streak.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Percy Liu takes the honour tonight. His second triple of the season ties him for the league lead. The two runs he scored tonight gives him 13 on the season and ties him for second in the league. His walk also puts him in a logjam tie for third in the league.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

SATURDAY PRIDE: Door Prizes, Drag Queens, Some Pride Fun and a Whole Lot of Other Fun Stuff Too!  First Pitch 7pm.  Gates open at 6pm.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON FATHER'S DAY:  Gates open at 1pm, First Pitch at 2pm.  After the game kids can run the bases and meet the players and coaches. Kids and Dads can play catch in the field too!

MONDAY KID'S FUN DAY: Pre-game Kid's Festival and Kid's Ticket Specials. First Pitch 7pm.  Gates open at 6pm.

 

 

Edmonton Prospects Go 0-fer On Road Trip

By Len Nunes

The Edmonton Prospects scored a run in each of the first three innings. Like a gambler down on their luck, the Brooks Bombers had an answer for everything the Prospects did. The Bombers boxscore shows two pairs and a three-of-kind within their first four innings. Brooks even had an answer for the Prospects three (3!) homer, seven run 5th inning. The Prospects return home 0-fer on the three game road trip. The RE/MAX Field faithful will look to push the 5-5 Prospects back over .500 on their upcoming 4-game homestand starting Friday night.  

Michael Gahan entered the game with 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief under his belt. This was Gahan's second start of the season but his dazzling 1.85 ERA did not leave intact. Gahan exited after 4 innings pitched allowing 8 runs on 10 hits. The score was 8-3 at this point.

Prospects first baseman Nick Spillman opened the scoring driving home lead-off batter Percy Liu while a defensive miscue in the third inning led to the Prospects third run of the game. The theme in this game though was power!

Aidan Huggins, off to a sluggish 2-for-15 start at the plate, hit a solo homer in the 2nd inning and a 3-run homer in the 5th inning. Jake MacDonald followed Huggins in that magical 5th inning with his first homer of the season. How did the inning start? With a lead-off home run by Percy Liu naturally! In non-homer happenings, Anthony Cusati and Tony Olson each collected a RBI via the sacrifice fly. When the dust settled, 7 runs had scored giving the Prospects a 10-8 lead. A lead that was short-lived.

Dylan Emmons, making his fourth appearance of the season, came into pitch for the Prospects in the bottom of the 5th inning. A 1-out double would come around to score to draw the Bombers within one. A 3-run homer put Brooks ahead 12-10. Emmons found his groove in the sixth inning striking out the first two batters he faced on route to a 1-2-3 inning. A lead-off single and a runner that reached base on an error would both cross the plate in the 7th inning versus Emmons making the score 14-10 Bombers. Emmons looked for another bounce back inning in the 8th and he got it. A 2-out double and intentional walk were left on base. Emmons finished with 4 innings of work allowing 6 runs on 6 hits without issuing a walk.

Spillman joined the home run party in the 8th inning bringing Daylen Calicdan across the plate with him and bringing the Prospects within two at 14-12. It was the eighth (8th!!) home run of the evening.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

You always hear about the unwritten rules of baseball. There are unwritten rules to selecting the Player of the Game also. One of those rules dictates that if a player hits not one but two homers, he wins. Congratulations Aidan Huggins.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

4 Days In A Row of Great Baseball This Weekend!

FRIDAY FUN: The Edmonton Prospect's take on the Lethbridge Bulls.  First Pitch 7pm.  Gates open at 6pm.

SATURDAY PRIDE: Door Prizes, Drag Queen's, Some Pride Fun and a Whole Lot of Other Fun Stuff Too!  First Pitch 7pm.  Gates open at 6pm.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON FATHER'S DAY:  Gates open at 1pm, First Pitch at 2pm.  After the game kids can run the bases and meet the players and coaches. Kids and Dads can play catch in the field too! 

MONDAY KID'S FUN DAY: Pre-game Kid's Festival and Kid's Ticket Specials. First Pitch 7pm.  Gates open at 6pm.

Walks and Homers, The Tale of A Prospects Loss

by Len Nunes

The presumed headline for Tuesday’s game focused on the 10th ranked run scoring offence of the Prospects chomping at the bit to get to a Brooks pitching staff featuring the highest ERA (5.13) in the league. What ended up happening was a Prospects pitching staff that had only allowed 15 walks and 3 home runs in their previous eight games combined, issuing 11 walks and 2 home runs in a 9-4 loss.

Scott Gillespie made his first start of the season for the Prospects after appearing in three games as a reliever. The Bombers loaded the bases with only 1-out in the first inning but Gillespie wiggled himself out of trouble allowing only one run. With 2-on and 1-out in the second inning, Gillespie and the Prospects defence could only watch as Zach Lehman hit a home run. The Prospects starter would leave down 4-0 in the 4th inning after issuing two walks and only getting one out.

Brenden Wiun took over on the mound. After collecting two swinging strikes versus Riley McDonald, the fourth pitch of the at-bat was tagged for a homerun making it 7-0 for the Bombers. Wiun found his groove in the 5th and 6th, pitching both innings clean before the CD got scratched in the 7th.

The Prospects offence found the board in the top of the 6th inning as they joined the long ball parade. With 2-out, Anthony Cusati and Nick Spillman each singled to get on base then the big fly! Tony Olson would hit his second homerun of the season closing the Bombers lead to 7-3.

In the top of the 7th, again with 2-outs, the Prospects would chip into the lead. Percy Liu singled, stole second, then third base. Daylen Calicdan hit a single to give Liu the express pass home to draw within three of the Bombers at 7-4.

With runners on 1st and 2nd in the bottom of the 7th, Brandon Hill took over on the Prospects mound. Both inherited runners would cross the plate putting some of the cushion back into the Bombers lead at 9-4.

Liam Campbell pitched the 8th inning for the Prospects. A lead-off walk and a 2-out walk were stranded on base when Campbell collected his first strikeout of the season (three appearances).

PLAYER OF THE GAME

The first player to earn this nomination a second time this season, Tony Olson is your Player of the Game.

Honourable mention to Nick Spillman who went 2-2 with two walks improving his batting average to .500.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, June 13 - Rematch AT Brooks Bombers 7PM

Friday, June 15 VS Lethbridge Bulls 7PM

Saturday, June 16 VS Lethbridge 7PM Pride Night – Proud Partner of Pride Week 2018. Door prizes, drag queens and all around Pride fun!

Sunday, June 17 VS Lethbridge 2PM Father’s Day – Play catch on-field with Dad post-game and run the bases!  Players and coaches will be on hand for autographs.

Monday, June 18 VS Medicine Hat Mavericks 7PM – Pre-game kids festival and kids ticket specials.

Derek Shedden Announcement

By Len Nunes

When you play sports, amateur or professional, you know your days are numbered. Playing baseball is not something you do until your pension kicks in at age 65. The only hope you have when you start your journey is that you can finish it on your own terms. An Edmonton Prospect since 2014, Derek Shedden revealed through his Instagram account that his playing days have come to a premature ending.

“Just gonna reminisce a little bit here as probably the biggest phase of my life comes to an end. Here is a series of photos from the first game of catch with Grandpa to the last team I'd ever play for. The last 20 years of baseball have been a dream come true in every way possible. Unfortunately I won't get to play what I thought would be my final season due to a partial tear in my UCL, but I am beyond grateful for all the years I was blessed with health to play the game I love. My family has been BEYOND supportive of me over the years as the game took me all over Canada and the U.S. and I am so grateful for all the sacrifices they made. Thank you to everyone else who made this possible as well and all the great people I met and made memories with that I'll never forget in the process! The baseball chapter of my life (in the way that it's been, at least) comes to an end, but I am excited to all that life has in store in the future outside this wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking, character building, educational, frustrating, fun, and humbling game.”

The Edmonton Prospects would like to thank Derek for his many years of dedicated and dynamic play. An amazing defensive player, he was a valued and key member of the team for many years.

Shedden DH’d in the first and third game of this season going 1-8 combined before pulling the plug.

In last year’s playoffs, Shedden led the team in batting average (.389) but that is not what you are going to remember. Shedden made a game-saving catch in the top of the 9th inning of Game 3 in the WMBL Championship Series to preserve a 6-5 victory. An infielder when he arrived in 2014, an outfielder as he exits stage left, you could always count on the young man to give it everything he had.

Shedden will be staying on with the Prospects for the rest of the season in the role of first base coach.