Versatile player a real catch for Dawgs

Baseball: Mark Riendeau has played six out of 10 positions

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 11:08 am

Okotoks Dawg Mark Riendeau catches a Tyrell King pitch in a 7-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Mavericks July 9 at Seaman Stadium. The versatile Riendeau has played six of 10 positions this year.
Okotoks Dawg Mark Riendeau catches a Tyrell King pitch in a 7-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Mavericks July 9 at Seaman Stadium. The versatile Riendeau has played six of 10 positions this year.
JORDAN VERLAGE/OWW

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An Okotoks Dawg doesn’t check the line-up just to see if he is playing, he checks it to see where he is playing.

The versatile Mark Riendeau played his sixth position of the year when he went behind the plate for three games last week to replace catcher Taylor Fish who was sick while backup catcher Spencer Church is out for the season with an injury.

“This was the first time I have caught since high school,” said Riendeau, a sophomore at Louisiana College. “It was tough adjusting for sure. Fish does such a good job and I just tried to fill in as best as I can.”

He had a few hiccups in his first game, a 9-6 loss to the Saskatoon Yellowjackets on July 5. However he was behind the plate for Okotoks’ next game on July 8 when Chris Sievers pitched a two-hit complete game gem against the Edmonton Prospects.

Sievers didn’t lose any sleep knowing he was throwing to a guy who would be catching his second game since high school.

“Absolutely not,” said Sievers. “You look at his work ethic on the field at practice and you realize you’re in good hands as a pitcher.”

Of course, part of a good working team is communication. Riendeau had a good talk with the other half of the battery before the game.

“I just ask him what he wants to do — what pitches he wants to do, what’s strategy he wants to do, what pitches he wants to call,” Riendeau said.

“I was just trying to make things as normal as possible.”

Riendeau called the games and was rarely shaken off by the pitchers in the three games he caught.

“They have enough worries about throwing pitches,” Riendeau said. “I just tried to read hitter and read spots and BT (head coach Brett Thomas) and coach (Austin) Brough helped me out.”

His catching days are over for a while, but fans can still see Riendeau cover more of the field than the tarp doing a rain delay.

He caught the game for six innings before being moved to third base later in the game.

“I just want to play — if it means playing nine different positions, in nine innings I will do it,” he said.

So far, the San Diego area native has played right and left field, first, second and third base and has DH’d when he has needed a rest. He’s played in 27 of the Dawgs’ 32 games as of Monday.

Riendeau is hitting .275 and is second on the team in both RBI with 20 and homers with three.

Thomas, who caught virtually every game for the Dawgs during their first three seasons in Okotoks, said he wasn’t too concerned about putting Riendeau behind the plate.

“He is such a good athlete and such a utility guy for us anyways,” Thomas said after the Dawgs 7-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Mavericks on July 9 at Seaman Stadium.

“The only thing I told him was to go out there and relax and let his athleticism take over.

“We talked a little bit about our game plan, but our pitchers pretty much know what is working.

“I sat down with both with Mark and (pitchers) Sievers and King (Tyrell King) today, just to make sure they were on the right page.”

He said the fact he was able to move Riendeau from behind the plate to third base was an indication of his athleticism.

The Dawgs Spencer Church has gone home due to the injury. Former J Dawg Aaron Either, who is now with the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack, has replaced him on the roster.

Black magic

A pair of teammates on the Junior Black Dawgs national championship team put the finishing touches on one of the college boys’ biggest victory of the year Saturday at Seaman Stadium.

The Dawgs’ Brendan Rose hit a walk-off single to score Matt Lloyd from second base in the bottom of the 11th to knock off the first-place Lethbridge Bulls 7-6 in Okotoks.

Rose, who hails from the Priddis area, and the recent Foothills Comp grad Lloyd, were members of the Black Dawgs Midget team which won the national championship in 2012.

Rose went two-for-five in the victory with two RBI.

He also gunned down the Bulls’ Mitch Dornblut at the plate earlier in the game to save a run.

The Dawgs were leading 7-6 in the ninth when the Bulls’ Travis Steinke tied things up with a solo blast to send the game to extra innings.

The Dawgs’ Australian product Travis MacDonald picked up the win by pitching four innings of one run relief.

Okotoks was able to keep the good things going by beating the Weyburn Beavers 8-2 Monday in Saskatchewan.

Southpaw pitcher Conor Lillis-White got the win to up his record at 2-2.

Ellis Kelly had three hits and two RBI in the win in Weyburn.

Scott Hoyt contributed two RBI and two hits in the victory.

The victory improved the Dawgs record to 17-15 and they sit in second-place in the Western Division tied with the Mavericks.

The Dawgs have won 16 of their last 22 games.

They now trail the first-place Bulls by five games.

The Dawgs are on their Singing of a Prairie tune tour this week. They are in Regina to take on the Red Sox tonight and Thursday, before returning to Alberta for a crucial match against the Bulls in Lethbridge Saturday night.

The Dawgs return to the friendly confines of Seaman Stadium on Sunday for a matinee tilt against the Edmonton Prospects.

The game is Canadian Breast Cancer Pink Day in which the Dawgs’ pink jerseys are auctioned off to raise money for cancer research.

For more information go to dawgsbaseball.ca or call 403-262-DAWG. To check out the standings go to wmbl.ca


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