Dawgs off to a rough start
Baseball: Okotoks hoping to rebound in Saskatchewan this week
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 10:28 am
You would half expect the new Okotoks Dawgs skipper to be pulling out his hair in frustration after the opening games of the Western Major Baseball League season.
Head coach Brett Thomas doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would take a 1-5 start easily.
“I’m probably the biggest competitor you are ever going to meet — I can’t stand losing ever,” Thomas said. “But there is an adjustment period for our guys, so things will be turning around here soon.”
Thomas has seen this Dawg-and-pony show before.
“I know my first year as a player we were 1-3 and in ’09 we were 1-4,” Thomas said. “Once we get our feet wet, we will be fine.”
Both those teams, 2007 and 2009, went on to win the WMBL championship.
Thomas is looking on the bright side after the first six games.
“I actually thought it was a pretty positive week in the sense of our guys getting to know each other and coming together,” Thomas said. “Sometimes you don’t have the ball bounce the right way for you when you are trying to iron out some kinks.”
The Dawgs had more kinks last week than a 1960s’ British Greatest Hits album.
Okotoks ended their week by dropping a 7-6 decision Sunday to the Lethbridge Bulls in the Bridge despite having a 6-0 lead after six-and-a-half innings. The loss nullified a strong performance by Dawgs starter Chris Horvath who pitched six innings of shutout ball before giving up two runs in the seventh.
The Dawgs’ bullpen was unable to keep the lead. It was also hurt by some errors as the winning run was unearned.
“I don’t think it is a concern right now,” Thomas said of his bully. “This is all a new experience for these guys — we’re just going through an adjustment period right now.”
The Dawgs’ lone win was a 14-3 romp over the Medicine Hat Mavericks June 4 in the Hat. Dawgs southpaw Jon Richards threw seven innings of shutout two-hit ball to pick up the W.
The offence was led by slugger Jake Simmerman. The first-baseman launched two homers and drove in seven runs.
Unfortunately, the Dawgs cooled off as nearly as low as the temperature for the Okotoks home-opener the next night. The Dawgs were beaten 8-5 by the Mavs in front of an announced 2,578 fans Thursday at Seaman Stadium.
Starter Conor Lillis-White struck out four batters in the first inning (one batter got to first when strike three got by the catcher). However, Lillis-White might have been affected by the cold. He lasted 3.2 innings and allowed two runs.
“Conor Lillis-White, although he struggled, showed some unbelievable promise,” Thomas said.
The Dawgs also lost to the Edmonton Prospects 6-4 on June 3 in the Capital City.
Okotoks was also trounced 10-1 in front of nearly 4,000 fans Saturday at Seaman Stadium.
Third-year outfielder Jerod Bartnik echoed Thomas in saying good times are coming soon.
“It is tough to judge a team after six games — a couple bounces go the other way and we are 3-3,” Bartnik said. “We’ve played hard every game. If we keep faith in the process, pretty soon the results will come.”
The Dawgs are hoping to find solace in Saskatchewan as they started a three-game road trip, starting with the Swift Current Indians on June 10. They are in Moose Jaw on June 11-12.
The Dawgs are hoping for some good luck on June 13, when they host the Mavericks at 7 p.m. The Swift Current Indians come to Okotoks on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Tribe and the Dawgs go at it again on Sunday during a 2 p.m. matinee at Seaman Stadium.
The Mavs are back in town for a 7 p.m. tilt on Tuesday.
For more information got to www.dawgsbaseball.ca