EDMONTON, AB – What was expected to be a gruelling stretch of four games in four days ended up being a much different weekend than expected for the Edmonton Prospects.
With the Air Quality Index in the capital region at a ridiculous level, Thursday afternoon’s previously scheduled action was cancelled, giving Edmonton an extra day’s rest on their schedule.
“That was crazy,” said Prospects head coach Jordan Blundell of Thursday’s conditions.
“It was like Armageddon.”
While the Prospects were unexpectedly off on Thursday, it still left the squad with three games over the course of the weekend, and with them a chance to establish themselves as a contender early on in the 2019 WCBL season. How did Edmonton fare over the course of their three games?
Prospects vs. Okotoks Dawgs: Friday, May 31
With an extra day’s rest under their belts, the Prospects headed to Okotoks for their first meeting with the Dawgs of the 2019 season.
Unfortunately, it also saw the Prospects handed their first loss of the season.
“We made a few more mistakes than they did, and that’s the reason the result was the way it was,” commented Blundell on Thursday’s action. “We played well, though; there are a couple of things we could have done better, but you’re not ever going to be perfect (in baseball). We can just try and limit the mistakes that we’re able to, and unfortunately, we just had a couple more than (Okotoks) did.”
While the Prospects kept a handle on the Dawgs offence for the first three innings, a trio of runs courtesy of a Jaxon Valcke double and a two-run homer from William Hollis gave Okotoks a lead they would never relinquish. While Travis Hunt and Nolan Walker would make a game of it in the sixth, a two-run single from Gavin Logan put the lead right back in the Dawgs hands. Despite Hunt pulling Edmonton within one on another single from Nolan Walker, the Dawgs bullpen was able to shut the Prospects offence down and give their squad a 5-4 victory.
Final Score: Dawgs 5, Prospects 4
Prospects vs. Brooks Bombers: Saturday, June 01
Whatever runs the Prospects were praying for on Friday were all answered during Saturday evening’s action against the Brooks Bombers.
Travelling to Brooks for the first time this season, the Prospects were looking to rebound following their defeat at the hands of the Bulls the previous evening. While the team had suffered their first loss of the season the night prior, the Prospects lineup remained mostly unchanged from the previous night’s affair.
“The old adage of ‘don’t mess with a winning lineup’ maybe applies a bit later in the year, but we’re confident in all our guys,” stated Blundell on the roster movement. “They were recruited for a reason, and one of our strengths is the depth we do have. With that, we can plug guys in and we don’t lose a beat.”
Boy, did that ever ring true.
Contrary to the previous night’s action, the scoring started hot and heavy for both the Prospects and their opponents. A two-run first inning by the Bombers was doubled by the Prospects, with Tanner Roundey, Travis Hunt, Nolan Walker and Jake Gheri – with his second home run of the season – all picking up hits in the bottom of the first. In fact, there were only two innings in Saturday’s game in which the Prospects didn’t pick up runs, with the squad turning the taps on offensively for their highest scoring output of the young WCBL season.
“Saturday, the offence really came out,” Blundell commented. “We put some good at-bats together and we got a couple of crucial big hits, which was big for us.”
“There are a ton of guys playing well right now,” continued the head coach. “Jake Gheri’s pair of home runs are huge, and he’s having great outings behind the plate. Travis Hunt has been a rock for us in right field. He’s a player; he plays the game hard and does things the right way.”
It was an unfortunate outing for the Bombers, who managed just a trio of runs to bookend the game. While such an offensive outburst may not have the pitchers at the top of mind, Blundell was quick to credit his bullpen as a major reason for the club’s victory on Saturday.
“The pitching staff has really given us an opportunity to do our jobs on offence,” said Blundell. “As a group, our bullpen has done a great job of giving us a chance to win and putting up 0’s when we need it. They’ve done a really great job as a unit from the bullpen.”
Final Score: Prospects 14, Bombers 3
Prospects vs. Brooks Bombers: Sunday, June 02
Sunday’s matinee saw the Prospects looking to continue their momentum from the previous evening’s matchup against the Brooks Bombers. While Edmonton was unable to match the offence from Saturday’s action, it was yet another clutch outing from the ‘spects.
“Sunday was tight,” said Blundell. “We had the lead, but a couple of little things allowed Brooks to battle back. Brooks has a solid offence, and they were grinding us out throughout the game and tied it up late. We were fortunate enough to get a guy on base in the 9th and some good things happened.”
The Prospects looked to be cruising towards victory from the onset of Sunday’s action. The team held a 5-1 lead heading into the top of the seventh inning; however, four straight runs by the Bombers pulled the squads even with just over two innings to play. However, while the Prospects bent, they didn’t break. A clutch single from Davis Pratt at the bottom of the 9th allowed Javier Ramirez to score from 2nd. Final score: 6-5 Prospects.
It was yet another example of the Prospects’ mental fortitude thus far through the 2019 season. While still early, the team has already managed two come-from-behind victories in the 9th inning at home. It’s something that Blundell believes can translate into further success in his first year behind the bench.
“It’s huge for the team’s confidence,” said the head coach. “Getting the experience of being able to win late, especially at home, is a good experience to have. It’s a confidence boost knowing that when we’re down, we’ve come back to win before and gets us motivated to do it again.”
Final Score: Prospects 6, Bombers 5
There’s no rest for the wicked, as the Prospects (4-1) are back in action tonight against the Okotoks Dawgs (4-0) for their first game of a 7-in-7 stretch. The game replaces the previously rescheduled game from Thursday, May 30th.
“I don’t know if there’s anything specifically we need to change at this point,” says Blundell of the upcoming action. “We’re still getting guys in the lineup and moving guys around a little bit; we’re still learning. We know a lot about the guys, but it’s getting a feel of what they can handle and what we’re capable of as a unit.”
First pitch tonight takes place at 7:05 pm.
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