Blog #8 Who Let The Dawgs Out

     Hello and welcome all fans of PBA Baseball! It has been nearly two weeks since my last entry Good Lord, was it ever busy. Prairie Baseball Academy had three series over the time playing 11 games in 13 days, with multiple games ending in the early morning hours under the moonlight. Additionally, the Junior Varsity team hosted their third annual showcase tournament. Finally, between both teams, the program umped around 20 minor baseball games in the yearly Icebreaker tournament. The team has had no additional time off after finishing their final exams. Without further ado, I hope you enjoy reading about the past two weeks as much as I did living them.

 

     On April 21st and 22nd, the Thompson River University Wolfpack traveled to play the Dawgs at home. The Lethbridge winds were in full force Saturday afternoon with 100 KM/HR gusts shaking the field. Punishing dust storms and devastating ball spin played an effect in the afternoon's games. A matchup between TRU ace, Tyler Hodder, and PBA’s closer, Ethan Kano-McGregor, in his first CCBC start, was a battle for the ages. The game was a double VHS special edition slugfest with a back and forth battle between the two offenses. The Wolfpack struck first blood and got up to an early 6-1 lead before the PBA bats responded with consecutive crooked numbers. TRU DH Vance Fode and PBA first basemen Kevin Floyd went head to head in the series opener. Each of them collected three hits and a home run on the afternoon, but Floydo had 6 RBIs where Vance had 5. The additional RBI was the difference in the game with the Dawgs winning by a score of 15-14. The second game of the day saw the PBA offense put up a crooked number early in the game. The Dawgs scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a commanding five-run lead after the first inning. Scott Gillespie held the lead for the Dawgs allowing three runs ( 1 Earned ) over five innings of work striking out 5. The offense was not able to put away the Wolfpack allowing them to stay in the ball game before scoring three in the 8th. The late rally allowed for some sweet revenge for the Dawgs in the bottom of the ninth. Eric Davies hit a rocket groundball at the third basemen which he was unable to handle cleanly allowing Lukas Ankermann to score from third. PBA won by a score of 7-6.

 

     The final two games against TRU for the year took place on a mild Sunday afternoon. With the wind calmed down the teams squared up for two more important conference games. Liam Sabiston had the ball for the Sunday morning game. Sab, once again, was excellent. Liam threw seven innings of shutout baseball striking out seven, rendering the TRU hitters senseless. Kevin Floyd, Eric Davies, and David LeBlanc all drove in multiple runs in the 7-1 win. With the Dawgs seeking the sweep, Coach Hubka sent Jack Henley to the mound. Jacko was terrific once again. Six innings of shutout baseball took the pressure of the offense as a Nick Allen would collect two hits as PBA won the game 6-1 and swept the series.

 

     With a series sweep behind them, PBA faced off with the U of C Dinos for a midweek three-game series. Wednesday afternoon’s games were also seven innings long as compared to the regular nine to accommodate midweek travel and exams for Calgary. Ethan Kano-McGregor got his second start of the year and did not disappoint. Kano overpowered the Calgary bats as he would strike out five over seven innings of two-run baseball. The PBA bats, however, struggled to gain any momentum throughout the game. With the game tied 2-2 Kai Poffenroth came in for the first inning of extras and shut down the Dinos giving the PBA bats an opportunity. David LeBlanc got hit by a pitch with one out to start the inning then, with two outs, Jaret Semeniuk smoked a ball up the middle putting runners on first and third. Your favourite blog writer stepped up to the plate and hit the first pitch up the middle to win the game for PBA in extras by a score of 3-2. In search of a second win Wednesday afternoon Scotty G, the pitching machine, threw for PBA. Scott was excellent in his five innings of work striking out five allowing two runs. Four players contributed RBIs in the efforts as the Dawgs were on route to a 6-2 win.

 

     The series finale was held on Thursday here in Lethbridge. Back to regular nine-inning games, the Dawgs looked for their second consecutive series sweep. A sweep, however, would not come so easy. In the second inning, a total team collapse lead to the Dawgs surrendering nine runs. Graham Forester entered the game in a situation where no more runs can be surrendered. Forester posted five scoreless innings giving the bats a chance. Down eight the Dawgs would slowly chip away. The Dawgs scored in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th, ultimately tying the game. Each team was deadlocked at nine runs apiece, and for the second time in the series, the game was headed to extra innings. Kai had held the Dinos bats at bay for the 9th and 10th allowing for some dramatics in the eleventh. With runners on first and second two out two strikes, Torrin Vaselenak sent a hanging curveball of the bottom of the left field wall, scoring two. Up 11-9 Kai came in for his third inning of work looking to slam the door. U of C was not about to go quietly as they would fight in the bottom of the eleventh. Three hits in the inning put the Dinos within one with the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at 1st. A groundball to Kano at shortstop ended the game and ultimately the series. Thursday’s game was a nitty-gritty fight fest that saw the Dawgs clawing their way back into a game they had no business being in. The game was a total team effort as 18 players played in the game for PBA.

 

     After sweeping their second series in a row, the Dawgs had won seven games straight and had been gaining momentum going into the weekend’s games. As previously mentioned the past weekend Lethbridge played host to many different tournaments at different levels. As a result of the JV Showcase and the forecasted inclement weather a decision was made to play doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday starting at 7:30 PM. Liam Sabiston was matched up against VIU’s ace Austin Gurr and the second last weekend of conference play was underway. Both the pitching and the hitting for the Dawgs was fantastic in the series opener. PBA’s offense scored consecutively in the first four innings getting an early look at the VIU Bullpen while Sab would throw 7.2 innings of two-run ball striking out 11. A final score of 8-3 had PBA winning the series opener and set the stage for the midnight game. Starting at 9:41 PM Jack Henley had another quality start for the Dawgs. Again, seven innings of 1 run baseball eased the path for the offense which posted nine runs in the game. Five PBA hitters had multi-hit games with Dalton Wells going 3-3 with one run driven in and two scored. The second game finished with a score of 9-2 sometime around 1:00 am. The team would head home to get some much-needed rest for the final two games of the series.

 

     Saturday’s games were merely the longest games I have ever been a part of. Each game had consistent back and forth offensive action as neither pitching staff was able to stop the eruption of runs. The Dawgs would score 22 runs on 22 hits in the first game with the team ultimately winning 22-12. David Leblanc had four hits in the game and seven Dawgs had multi-hit games. Each team played the second game utterly exhausted. Beginning sometime after 11 PM neither team was willing to quit. The late-inning affair started late and ended late due to the runs scored by each team. Eric Davies carried the PBA offense going 5-6 with three runs scored three runs driven in and a walk. A final score of 20-16 in the second game concluded a day that saw 69 runs scored on 80 hits. If you find time in your day check the Pointstreak and see the offensive production in the game. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.

 

     This weekend was highly productive for the program. Hosting and umpiring a tournament required all hands on deck from each team. The program wishes to thank the many volunteers that made the weekend so successful. This list of people includes the parent volunteers working at both Spitz Stadium and Lloyd Nolan Yard, the umpires for being available for such late games and the team photographer, Cindy Adachi, who captured every moment of the weekend's games well into the early morning hours.

 

     The showcase tournament was also the last weekend of play for the JV team. Despite a year where the weather failed to cooperate the team was able to compete in the tournament. After going 3-0 in round robin play the Dawgs lost to the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball in the semi-final. Nathan Reiter was fantastic for the JV team in the loss throwing a great game and giving the team a chance. Vauxhall would go on to win the tournament for the third year in a row.

 

     This stretch of games for the Dawgs was exhausting but crucial in the season. The Dawgs won 11 games in a row in 13 days. This hot streak allowed the team to vault themselves into first place in the CCBC. With two games against Calgary scheduled for Wednesday and the last four-game weekend series planned for the weekend, the team will stay busy. Keep reading for all things PBA.

 

~Chewy



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