Dawgs’ streak comes to screeching halt

Baseball: Okotoks drops a pair after four-game winning streak

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 02:43 pm

A Medicine Hat Maverick slides behind Okotoks Dawgs catcher Taylor Fish June 23 at Seaman Stadium. The Mavs came back to beat the Dawgs 5-2.
A Medicine Hat Maverick slides behind Okotoks Dawgs catcher Taylor Fish June 23 at Seaman Stadium. The Mavs came back to beat the Dawgs 5-2.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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Okotoks Dawgs let their best pitching start of the year go for not in a 5-2 loss to their biggest rivals.

Southpaw Anthony Willeford got his first start of the year for the Dawgs and pitched six innings of shutout ball, allowing three hits with eight Ks and left the game with a 2-0 over the Medicine Hat Mavericks Monday at Seaman Stadium.

“That was the best pitching performance we had all year,” Dawgs head coach Brett Thomas said of Willeford’s start. “He just filled up the zone with strikes. We couldn’t have asked any more.”

The Dawgs weren’t able to hang on as Medicine Hat rallied to score five runs in the last two innings for the victory.

It was the second-straight loss for the Dawgs after winning four in a row earlier in the week. It dropped Okotoks record to 6-11 — 5.5 games behind the first-place 11-5 Mavericks.

Thomas wasn’t putting the blame on his bullpen. His pitching staff got little support offensively or defensively.

“Our offensive approach today was horrible,” Thomas said after the loss to Medicine Hat. “The way we have played over the last week, was our offence has been good and allowed our pitchers to settle down and our defence followed with it. We just tried to do too much and it cost us.”

Willeford was happy with his start after having a relief appearance with the Dawgs earlier in the season.

“It felt good to get back in a routine, coming out of the bullpen is different for me,” the MacMurray College product said. “I just came out and threw strikes. I had a little bit of trouble locating my off-speed stuff, but my fastball was really working well for me tonight.”

Okotoks took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Connor Crane doubled and came into score on another double-bagger by Scott Hoyt. The Dawgs would add another run in the seventh when Taylor Fish, who was running on the pitch, scored from second on a wild pitch.

However, the Dawgs were unable to hold the lead.

The Mavs’ Andy Scott greeted Okotoks relief pitcher Adam Collier with a lead-off homer in the seventh. Medicine Hat would tie the game later in the inning.

Hard-luck Dawgs pitcher Tyler Vavra took the loss when he gave up three unearned runs in the eighth inning to put the Mavs up 5-2. Okotoks committed three errors in the game.

It was the second consecutive game the Dawgs had let a late-inning lead slip.

Okotoks had a 6-3 lead over the Lethbridge Bulls in the ’Bridge Sunday but gave up four in the ninth to lose 7-6.

Despite the back-to-back blown saves, Thomas still has confidence in his bullpen.

“We have to have our guys buy in to who they are to their approach — we have guys trying to do too much,” Thomas said.

He added if the Dawgs could take better control of the ball defensively, it would take a load of his pitchers.

The Dawgs had rattled off four straight wins prior to the loss to the Bulls, including an impressive 15-5 victory over the Mavs in front of 3,606 fans at Seaman Stadium Friday night.

Okotoks scored five in the seventh and another five in eighth to break the game wide open.

The big blow came from Mark Riendeau who drove in three runs in the eighth with a base-loaded double with two outs. The Dawgs third basemen went 4-4 in the game. Jake Simmerman hit his league- leading fifth home run and Connor Crane smacked his second dinger of the season. Priddis’ Brendan Rose went 3-5 in the game.

The Dawgs’ Jon Richards picked up the win to improve to 2-1.

Okotoks also beat the Edmonton Prospects 10-7 on Thursday in Edmonton and the Bulls 8-2 in the Bridge Saturday.

The Dawgs will host the Bulls tonight (June 25) at Seaman Stadium at 7 p.m. before going to Saskatoon for two games against the YellowJackets.

They will return to Seaman Stadium to take on the defending Western Major Baseball League champion Melville Millionaires on June 30 and Canada Day.

The July 1 game is expected to be a sell out. For ticket information go to www.dawgsbaseball.ca


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