By Tyler Lowey:
A pair of college teammates dialed up the long ball to send the largest home opening crowd in franchise history of 4,881 home happy, as the Okotoks Dawgs clipped the Medicine Hat Mavericks 4-3 Saturday night during Western Major Baseball League action at Seaman Stadium.
William Hollis (Cisco College) singled on the first pitch of the bottom of the fourth to set the stage for J.T. Patterson (Bellevue University). Patterson, a Dawgs Academy grad, destroyed the seventh pitch of his at bat over the centre field fence for his first home run of the season, giving him the team lead with four RBI.
“If the guys are confident up there, I know they are going to square something up. J.T. was fouling tough pitches off and was right on it. You could see that he was locked in,” said Dawgs Head Coach Mitch Schmit.
Not to be outdone was his teammate at Bellevue, Riley Baasch, who swatted the game-winner after a crazy top half of the eighth inning. This marked the eighth time in 2018 the two have homered in the same game.
“We called ourselves the Bash Bros at school. It felt like anytime I hit one, he would hit one in the same game,” said Baasch, who won the season-long contest with 17 dingers to Patterson’s 16. “The competition is definitely on again this summer.”
The Dawgs needed Baasch’s heorics after the Mavericks (0-1) clawed their way back in the top of the eighth and managed to score three runs without hitting the ball out of the infield.
The rally began with a Louie Canjura single. Carson Johnson lofted a shot over Baasch, but turned it into a double. Lefty reliever Andrew Yates (Indiana University Southeast) mixed in a couple of walks and saw his pickoff attempt fail to record an out, he was lifted for Jordan Pepper (Seward County Community College). Pepper walked Sal Rodriguez with the bases loaded to score two runs, as Johnson scored from second base, to tie the game at three.
“You’ll see innings like that every once in a while with wood bats. They just happened to find a couple holes and we didn’t help him out with the messed up pickoff play either,” said Baasch, who now has hits in back-to-back games.
Lost in the strange eighth inning was the brilliant performance by Dawgs starter Cody Ebert (Columbia College), who was dialed in from the first pitch.
Ebert strikeout four batters through the first two innings. After allowing a leadoff single to Canjura, Ebert mowed down the next three batters to retire the side.
He allowed one more hit before his six solid innings were complete. By the time he left the mound, Ebert racked up 10 strikeouts, walking one.
“Cody is going to be the goofball in the dugout, but when he crosses that line, he goes to war. Something happens where he just flips a switch out there and turns into a bulldog. I’ve seen him pitch in the past and that’s exactly who I thought we were going to get,” said Schmit.
Because Pepper struck out Colton Wright to end the eighth, he was the pitcher of record and vultured his first win of the season.
Mavericks (0-1) reliever Sean Cruz got labeled with the loss.
Cole MacLaren started his first game behind the dish for the Dawgs (2-0) and smacked a double to the left field wall. He came around to score when leadoff man Collin Ridout (Tennessee Wesleyan University) grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Closing it out was Ebert’s college teammate Craig Smith (Columbia College), who worked a perfect ninth inning for his first save of the season.
The Dawgs are back in action tomorrow afternoon when they head to Edmonton to take on the Prospects (1-1) at RE/MAX Field (2:05 p.m.). The next Dawgs home game is slated for Wednesday, June 6, when they host the Brooks Bombers (0-1) at Seaman Stadium. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.