Black Dawgs reunited with college squad
Baseball: Four members of championship team back together
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 06:00 am
Four members of the Okotoks Dawgs are hoping they can recreate some of the magic they shared while coming up through the ranks.
Dawgs head coach Brett Thomas, outfielder Brendan Rose, pitchers Shawn Andersen and Jake Shaw won a national Midget championship with the Okotoks Black Dawgs in 2012 in Quebec City. They are reunited this season to take a run at a Western Major Baseball League title with the Okotoks Dawgs.
The Black Dawgs were something special to Shaw.
“The highlight for me was just the chemistry we had on that team,” he said. “Especially at the nationals.”
Shaw admitted he is surprised to be playing under Thomas again.
“I never thought he would coach (here) again,” Shaw said. “After we won the finals, he told us how proud he was of us he was, and how we fought through it.”
Thomas had accepted his present job as assistant coach at College of San Mateo in California prior to the 2012 nationals. Thomas, who won three WMBL titles as the Dawgs catcher from 2007-09, has returned to coach the summer team. He isn’t surprised that three players from the Midget championship team have made the jump to the big squad.
“The calibre of the players was so good and for them to get an opportunity to play here at such a young age it helped them advance their careers,” Thomas said.
All the members of that championship squad have earned spots to play post-secondary baseball.
“The biggest thing is these three guys know what the program is all about,” Thomas said. “A lot of guys have to adapt to the program and how things are done. It’s a huge advantage for me to know what I can expect from these guys.”
What he can expect from the right-handed hurler Shaw is grit.
Shaw got the start at in the quarterfinals against Saskatchewan at the 2012 nationals. He didn’t exactly have his best stuff. He was nursing a tender arm.
“I was just pushing through it and the game was going back and forth,” said Shaw, who just finished his freshman year pitching for the University of Northern Kentucky Norse. “We gave up three runs and we came back to win... that was the coolest game.
“After that there was no one who could have stopped us.”
The Dawgs won the game on a walk-off walk by Blake Patterson. Okotoks would go on to win the national championship game, by beating B.C. 4-1 on a gem pitched by Matt Lloyd.
Rose played outfield for the Black Dawgs and also gave some valuable innings on the mound for Thomas at nationals.
Andersen was one of the Black Dawgs prime pitchers during the regular season, however, he was a few months too old to compete in the playoffs and at nationals.
“I was an assistant pitching coach and I was just trying to help out any way I could,” said the right-handed Andersen, who is a sophomore at Douglas College in B.C. “I wanted to play, but I was just happy to be there.”
Andersen, who had a 3-0 record for the College Dawgs last season, is looking forward to playing under his former Midget coach.
“I definitely didn’t think I would be with Brett again, but once I heard the news I was pretty stoked,” he said.
“I was pretty excited,” said Rose, a graduate from Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, currently playing for the UBC Thunderbirds.
Thomas knows exactly what he is getting from his three former Black Dawgs.
“I don’t know what any of the roles are going to be for any of our players are going to be,” Thomas said.
“Brendan is obviously going to be big for us in the outfield especially with his left-handed bat.
“Shawn and Jake can both start and pitch out of the bullpen... It’s kind of nice to know you have two guys who can definitely do both.”
Shaw pitched two innings of relief in the Dawgs’ season opener in Medicine Hat Sunday.
There might be one more member of that championship Black Dawgs team putting on the red-and-white of the collegiate Okotoks squad this season.
Matt Lloyd, the starting pitcher in the 2012 squad, is playing for the Black Dawgs, but may see action with the College Dawgs at some point this season.