Resilient Dawgs sweep opening homestand

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The Okotoks Dawgs celebrated their 10th anniversary season in historic fashion.

Okotoks rode an opportunistic offence and timely pitching to a sweep of its opening three-game homestand to earn the best start to a season in the history of the Western Major Baseball League squad.

“We’re resilient. We know that we have good enough bats to comeback in any game,” said Dawgs catcher Joel Brophy. “Even if we get down in a game we will be able to comeback most of the time.

“It was very nice to see all these fans come out and getting three wins to start it off just sets the tone for the rest of the season.”

Okotoks wrapped up the stellar set in a come-from-behind 9-6 triumph over Edmonton in the first meeting between the clubs since the Prospects dispatched the Dawgs in the opening round of the 2016 post-season.

Okotoks put up a season high 14 hits on Sunday.

Brophy and Greg Cullen each registered three-hit, two RBI efforts while first-baseman Kody Funderburk — a member of the Prospects last season — added two hits, two runs and an RBI.

“It was fun to play against them,” said Funderburk, a Queen Creek, Arizona native. “I enjoy every guy over there. Last summer when I first came in all those guys took me in as if I was a guy from Canada even though I was from the States. A lot of respect for the guys over there. They can play.”

Edmonton carried a 6-3 advantage before Okotoks responded with four runs in the fifth inning and two more insurance runs in the eighth.

Chris Horvath picked up the win giving up six earned runs over five innings. Tyler Burdett pitched three shutout innings in relief to earn the save.

Okotoks kicked-off the weekend with the most dramatic of victories.

After allowing four runs on two errors in the top of the ninth inning, the Dawgs exploded for three straight hits with Cullen driving in Eddie Sanchez and Peter Hutzal on a deep fly ball to sew up the walk-off 7-6 season opening victory over the Medicine Hat Mavericks on Friday.

“We just got together and said let’s just get some guys on base,” said Cullen, a sophomore from Niagara University. “Eddie got on base, Hutzal got a nice hit to the opposite side and I was just happy there was a righty on the mound.

“I was looking fastball and drove it the other way.”

Cullen paced the offence with three RBI, outfielder Jayse McLean knocked in a pair while Hutzal scored three runs and went 3-for-5 from the leadoff spot.

“All the hitters are looking pretty good and we’re just having good at-bats,” Brophy said. “We’re putting together quality at-bats and it’s paying off for us.”

Okotoks took the back-end of the two game set 14-11 in an absolute barnburner Saturday.

The Dawgs exploded for four runs in the third and five in the sixth to hold off the Mavericks for the second time in as many days.

Cullen, McLean and Aderly Perez chipped in with two RBI performances.

“When you’re at home you should win them. This is big for us,” Funderburk said. “Opening day we get the walk-off. Saturday wasn’t pretty, but we pulled it out. Three pretty character wins.”

The Dawgs drew a total attendance of 11,657 over the three games at Seaman Stadium, an average crowd of over 3,800.

The red-and-white get on the bus for its first road trip of the season starting June 7 in Brooks, followed by a rematch with the Prospects in Edmonton on June 8 and a three-game set in Fort McMurray versus the Oil Giants from June 9-11.

Okotoks’ next home date is June 13 versus the Lethbridge Bulls.

For more information go to dawgsbaseball.ca

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