Six and a half hours, 8 pitching changes in 17 innings of ‘never-give-up- baseball’ is what carried the Okotoks Dawgs to victory in the series finale against the Medicine Hat Mavericks as the WCBL leaders walked away with a 9-8 decision early Thursday morning.
Okotoks (28-10) went to extras for the first time this season and managed to recover from disaster after blowing a 6-1 lead.
The Dawgs opened the contest on a positive note with a three-spot in the top of the first on RBI singles from UBC infielder Jaxon Valcke, Nebraska University infielder and eventual winning pitcher Shay Schanaman and Texas State’s Will Hollis.
Hollis eventually pushed the Okotoks lead to 4-0 with his second RBI of the game in the third.
Medicine Hat found the board and broke the shutout bid of Dawgs starting ace Nolan Ruff in the fifth inning.
Okotoks seemed to put the game out reach in the top of the seventh when Bellevue University first baseman Riley Baasch and Oregon State commit Jacob Melton tallied back-to-back RBI doubles to propel the score to 6-1.
The Mavericks, however, pulled an ‘Okotoks’ to climb back into the contest.
(The Dawgs dropped an 11-8 contest in game-two but scored two in the eighth before leaving the bases loaded to end the contest in the ninth and have already came from behind and walked-off against the Mavs earlier this year)
Medicine Hat racked up six runs in the bottom of the seventh to come back and then take the lead, forcing three Dawgs pitchers, including starter Ruff out of the game.
Mesa’s Ruff threw a very effective ball game, keeping the Mavs at bay for most of his start despite only striking out two and giving up seven hits before getting pulled in the seventh,
He left the contest pitching six and one-third innings while surrendering four runs on 10 hits.
The ballgame came to the hands of Mavericks and former Okotoks Dawgs relief arm Austin Oulds to close out the game but he blew the lead against his former team during the top of the ninth when UBC’s Valcke forced a sacrifice-fly to tie the game at 7-7.
Extra innings proved to be a battle of mental strength as both sides continuously ousted one another’s chance to end the ball game until the 16th inning.
The Dawgs loaded the bases on three different occasions while the Mavs tied the ball game in a do-or-die situation.
Academy of Arts pitcher Galen Manhard stepped out of the bullpen and threw six consecutive shutout innings after the ninth striking out six in the process.
With the solid support from the mound, the Dawgs scored their first run after keeping the contest alive in the ninth.
Valcke slapped an RBI single that gave the Dawgs the 8-7 advantage in the 16th inning but the Mavericks responded with a base hit in the bottom half to tie the contest once again.
The Dawgs eventually wore out the remains of what was the Mavericks bullpen as the winning run came down to a bases-loaded walk earned by Thompson Rivers’ Liam Rihela in the 17th.
University of Nebraska Husker Schanaman entered the ball game to close out the contest on the mound but blew the save opportunity, allowing Medicine Hat to tie the ball game in the bottom of the 16th but closed out the contest after Dawgs and Thompson Rivers second baseman earned a bases-loaded walk in the 17th.
The Nebraska Husker earned the win and closed out the marathon around 1:30 a.m.
The Dawgs continue to hit the road and travel east to Saskatchewan to open a three-game set against the Melville Millionaires.