Tonight’s matchup between the Okotoks Dawgs and Fort McMurray Giants was out of the norm for the winning Dawgs who held on to their lowest scoring decision Tuesday night, gripping onto a 2-1 victory.
Okotoks swept the Giants during their two-game set earlier in the month and improve their record against them to 3-0 in the season series so far.
Okotoks (17-5) pads their lead in the WCBL Western Division, holding a five-game gap between them and second-placed Lethbridge.
Clutch late-inning dominance from the mound, set up by Mesa Community College hurler Nolan Ruff, carried the load for the Dawgs.
Ruff started the game on the bump for the Dawgs on the condition that he would be held to a 50-pitch limit, but his performance allowed him to improve his record to 4-0 on the record, lasting six innings and striking eight while only giving out one run.
“I knew I had a limit on my pitches,” Ruff says after the game.
“I told Joe (Sergent) I felt good today and told him I can throw more if needed. I knew after that fifth inning I was probably getting yanked, but I was irritated after some calls went the other way and wasn’t ready to go out like that,”
Virginia Tech product and supposed split-starter Nick Vickers, pitched the shut down seventh and eighth innings, retiring all six batters faced before Mesa teammate Dustin Schorie, shut the game down for the save during the ninth.
Both teams played an aggressive baserunning game with both teams having runners caught stretching out extra bases.
Notably, two Dawgs batters getting caught twice gambling on extra bases and had two caught stealing on plays that brought down the momentum as fast as it came up in the earlier innings.
Despite the Dawgs getting outhit for just the third time this season, runs in the first two innings helped separate them from the Giants (8-13).
Nonetheless, after two Dawgs players loaded second and third base in the first, a sacrifice-fly from the University of Houston infielder Bret Esau opened the scoring.
In the next inning, in almost the exact same fashion, Chandler-Gilbert outfielder Tristan Peters slapped his team-leading 22nd RBI of the season to double the Okotoks lead with a single.
An inning of misery for the Dawgs saw the Giants put their first run up on the board.
Short-stop Richard Mascarenas had a groundball skip on the ground and bounce off his face before a strike-two call was called the other way, eventually setting up Fort McMurray with men on the corners.
A sac-fly from the Giants cut the Okotoks lead in half during the fifth inning.
Ruff answered back in a typical ‘pitcher’ mentality and used a little anger to fuel his final inning by striking out the side.
“In my head, I told the other team to ‘shove it’ and motivate me to strike out all three of my final outs,”
“I ramped it up a little bit for sure. I played pissed off and was not going to let them control my game so I went after them and took any chance away from scoring another run,”
Vickers entered the game and carried the momentum as he fanned three of his six opponents before Mesa relief pitcher Schorie closed the game out.
The Dawgs travel down to Brooks for their final meeting of the season against the Bombers on Wednesday evening with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.