Dawgs healthy heading for homestretch
Baseball: Ailing team stumbled on the road last week
Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 06:00 am
It doesn’t matter if the players are feeling sicker than dogs — it’s crunch time.
The Okotoks Dawgs are fighting for home-field as they find themselves 2.5 games behind the second-place Medicine Hat Mavericks in the West Division with just eight games to go as of Tuesday.
“We are in a tough spot, but we definitely can get that second-place and home field advantage,” said Dawgs third baseman Connor Crane. “We play Medicine Hat (on June 28) and that is going to be a real big game.”
The Dawgs crawled into second-place briefly about 10 days ago, but a road trip left them feeling sick. They went 2-4 on the road last week before righting the ship by doubling up the Edmonton Prospects 8-4 in front of 3,700 fans at Seaman Stadium on Canada Breast Cancer Pink Day on Sunday.
The win put the Dawgs at .500 at 19-19, while the Mavericks were at 22-17 as of Tuesday. The first-place Lethridge Bulls have virtually clinched the division at 26-13.
Crane admitted it was a tough roadie.
“We had guys who have been sick and going on the road is tough in general and especially being shorthanded as we were,” said Crane the team’s leader in hitting at .318. “We didn’t have the outcome we were looking for, but we got some wins — a big one against Regina — that we can build off of.”
The Dawgs thumped the Eastern division leaders, the Regina Red Sox, 12-1 July 16 in the Queen City thanks in large part to the King of the Hill.
Tyrell King bewitched the Sox with his fastball and off-speed stuff. He allowed only three hits and struck out seven to improve his record to 4-1.
“He has done a great job,” Thomas said. “He’s a guy who wants the ball in tough situations.”
Earlier in the week, the Dawgs beat a pesky Weyburn Beaver team 8-2, in which Conor Lilllis-White improved his record to 2-2 on July 14.
However, those were the Dawgs lone victories on the road, as they dropped decisions to Weyburn and Regina. They then lost back-to-back games to West Division rivals. They were blanked by the Mavericks 7-0 in Med Hat on Friday. A Dawgs’ comeback came up just short in a 7-6 loss to the first place Lethbridge Bulls on Saturday.
“We were playing some tough teams on the road and we were sick and had injuries,” Thomas said. “We only had 10 position players go on that trip, so it is tough when you can’t mix-and-match the guys to put them in better situations to succeed.”
He said the flu or strep throat that went through the team appears to be gone.
Thomas also thinks the bullpen is on the mend.
“We had five scoreless innings from our bullpen yesterday,” Thomas said. “Travis McDonald has been outstanding for us. Adam Collier had a great outing last week. Shawn Andersen has had two good outings.
“They have to understand they don’t have to do too much — go in there for one inning, give us a zero and we will give the ball to the next guy.”
The Dawgs played the Edmonton Prospects on Tuesday with King on the bump, but results were too late for the Western Wheel’s publication deadline.
They are in Medicine Hat and Swift Current Wednesday and Thursday.
They return to Seaman Stadium to host the Yorkton Cardinals on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. The Prospects are in town on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Dawgs close out the regular season on July 30 to play Lethbridge at 7 p.m. on Fan Appreciation Day.