The Okotoks Dawgs left the door open for a charging Lethbridge Bulls squad who evened the Western Canadian Baseball Leauge Divisional Final thanks to a 5-1 victory on a frosty and damp summer night inside Spitz Stadium.
Okotoks’ failure to take advantage of multiple scoring opportunities earlier in the contest proved costly for the Western Divison banner holders as the Bulls piled on five runs in the opening three innings to give them the room needed to survive another day.
The Dawgs started cold inside the batter’s box but managed to place men on base after two errors opened the contest but left runners in scoring position stranded to end the opening inning – while two walks during the second also left men on base stranded.
Okotoks ultimately left 15 men on base during the contest while loading the bases twice in the contest.
Lethbridge however, cashed in on their scoring chances scoring a run in each of their opening two halves while mounting the pitch count on Dawgs starter Nick Vickers while cruising through the lull from the Okotoks offence.
Vickers got pulled just eight outs into his start.
The Calgary, Alta. native had a rough time finding the zone – walking eight batters while giving up five runs on five hits in his short outing.
The Dawgs’ lone impact on offence came from the bat of Texas State infielder Will Hollis who cut the 2-0 deficit in half during the top of the third inning with an RBI single after Oregon State signee Jacob Melton, recorder the first Okotoks hit of the game with a one-out double.
The Bulls scored three runs in a nightmare inning for the Dawgs.
Lethbridge scored on a two-out double to push the lead to 3-1 before adding two more runs on a single that forced Vickers out of the contest just 2.2 innings into his outing.
Dawgs Academy 18U Black youngster Matt Wilkinson entered the contest in his first playoff appearance for the college team. He gave up a wild pitch against his first batter that scored the third run in the inning but the 16-year-old wonder settled play afterwards.
Wilkinson gave his Dawgs a chance after settling play for his side, lasting 5.1 innings, allowing just two hits while fanning seven in relief.
The potent Okotoks offence swung ice-cold in the contest, tallying a mere six hits during game-two while also seeing men reach on base on five Lethbridge errors.
Okotoks threatened heavily in the fourth inning and eighth innings, loading the bases but failing to inflict any damage on both occasions.
Okotoks travels back to Seaman Stadium for the series finale set for 7:05 p.m.