No Bull about this one.
The Western Division champion Okotoks Dawgs overcame an eighth-inning meltdown to eventually walk-off against the Lethbridge Bulls 6-5 in game-one of the Western Canadian Baseball Leauge Divisional Final.
The Bulls treated Okotoks with a taste of their medicine as the hometown Dawgs gave up a four-spot in the eighth inning – the exact same fashion the Edmonton Prospects collapsed twice previously just days ago.
The Dawgs were once again carried by brilliant pitching as Academy of Art hurler Galen Manhard took on the bump in a non-traditional start for the Carmel Valley, California relief pitcher.
Manhard’s closest appearance to a start was back when he pitched six shutout innings while in extra innings during the 17-inning marathon win against the Medicine Hat Mavericks back on July 18th.
Manhard nearly became the second Dawg starter in as many nights to go the distance but his brilliant performance, yielding four runs on four hits while striking out 11, was cut short with one away during the eighth inning.
Okotoks opened the scoring after loading the bases in the first inning on a Gavin Logan walk gave that gave the Dawgs the first lead of the game.
After the Bulls tied the contest on a solo jack the following inning, bats on both sides fell silent for the next three innings until the Dawgs restored their lead.
A sac-fly from 18-year-old Dawgs Academy product Richardo Sanchez gave the Dawgs a 2-1 lead in the sixth.
Lethbridge however, gave Okotoks a taste of their medicine as the Dawgs, who capitalized on the Edmonton Prospects collapsing in the eighth inning twice, had the roles reversed.
The Bulls forced Dawgs starter Manhard after giving up an extra-base hit that cut the deficit in half at 4-2.
Relief pitcher Andrew Yates came in relief but walked his first batter to load the bases. Bellevue University hurler Brandon Desjardins was called upon to clean up a messy situation but ultimately gave up three more runs – the first two being an error committed when the Dawgs defence failed to turn a double-play which saw the second throw land in the dugout, allowing two runs to cross.
A Lethbridge RBI single gave the Bulls a 5-4 lead heading into the final ending.
Desjardins recovered and gave his Dawgs the chance they need after tossing a 1-2-3 inning in the top half of the ninth.
Okotoks was once again beneficiary of a meltdown from the opposition as the Bulls committed three errors in the bottom of the ninth alone.
The Bulls crumbled in the ninth after leading off the inning with two errors before a bunt single was misplayed, loading the bases with no outs.
A third and crucial error by Lethbridge evened the contest for the Dawgs at 5-5 – setting the stage for NCAA Divison-II St. Leo commit Brett Esau.
The Meadow Lake, Sask. native was down to the final pitch of the game, seeing a full count with two outs in the inning but slapped a base-hit on a poorly position and deeply placed Bulls infield to give Okotoks a 1-0 series advantage.
The Dawgs look for the sweep when they travel down to Lethbridge tomorrow night with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.