June 18th, 2024

Bulls edge the Dawgs


By Dale Woodard on June 24, 2021.

It was a white-knuckle ending for the Lethbridge Bulls.

Thankfully, it was enough for the win as the Bulls prevailed with a 3-2 win over the Okotoks Dawgs Red in Western Canadian Baseball League play Wednesday night at Spitz Stadium.

With Lethbridge up 3-1 heading into the ninth and with some late-evening lightning flashing off to the west, the Dawgs set up an electric ending, loading the bases with none out and pulling within one when Caleb Lumbard singled to left field to score Peter Hutzal and make it 3-2 with the bases still loaded.

But having already pitched out of a jam earlier, Bulls reliever Max Benton induced a comeback to the pitcher’s mound for a double play at home plate and first before snubbing the Dawgs rally with a strikeout to seal the win that improves the Bulls to 2-1.

Meanwhile, Bulls second baseman Nick Gravel snapped a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth with a shot up the middle that took a lucky hop off the pitcher’s mound and scored Noah Or from third.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done,” said Bulls head coach Chance Wheatley. “The ending was not really what you want. But it was exciting and I’m glad we got the win.”

The hosts took an early lead, putting runners on the corners with two out in the top of the second inning. Dalton Demers singled and stole second and Josh Kabayama reached on a single to shortstop.

Mike Fitzsimmons reached on a deep single to second to score Demers for a 1-0 Bulls lead after two innings.

Bulls starter Levi Abbott pitched five hitless innings, but the Dawgs broke through in the top of the sixth when Nash Crowell and Tyson Kemp laced back-to-back singles and then advanced to third and second on a throwing error from Bulls catcher Noah Or.

Crowell then scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Ryder Hancock to tie things up at 1-1 after five-and-a-half.

Kade Kahlert came in on in relief of Abbott and issued a walk to Hutzal, hit Brandon Hupe with a pitch and walked Lumbard to load the bases with one out.

That brought in Benton, who got the Bulls out of the jam, striking out Crowell and inducing a flyout to first base off the bat of Tyson Kemp to leave the bases loaded and keep it 1-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh.

The Bulls grabbed the lead back in their half of the eighth.

Or and Carlin Dick drew walks as Roman Guthrie came in to pitch for the Dawgs and moved to third and second on a passed ball.

Demers – with two hits already – drew a two-out walk to load the bases and bring up Gravel.

The second baseman drew the count full and then hit a shot up the middle that took a high bounce off the pitcher’s mound, allowing him to reach safely and Or to scamper home for a 2-1 lead.

“I think I saw it hit the around the pitcher’s mound, it shot right up,” said Gravel of his single. “As soon as I saw it I knew I was getting the run in.”

The Bulls upped their lead to 3-1 one batter later when Dick scored on a wild pitch.

Then with the Dawgs threatening, Benton induced the 1-2-3 double play and strikeout to earn the decision.

“He showed us something today and he’s definitely got some compete in him,” said Wheatley of the reliever from Clyde River, Prince Edward Island. “That’s exactly what you want out of that kind of reliever. It was awesome.”

Benton pitched two and two-thirds innings, allowing one run on two hits, walking two and striking out two.

Abbott went six innings, giving up one run on two hits and striking out nine.

“Levi was on today,” said Wheatley. “He was pounding first-pitch strikes the whole time and just attacking the guys. That’s what you want. He was fantastic.”

Guthrie took the loss for Okotoks, throwing one inning and surrendering two runs on one hit, walking four and striking out one.

Dawgs starter Zac Robinson pitched five innings in his start, giving up one run on seven hits and striking out one.

Demers and Gravel each had two hits for the Bulls. Gravel chipped in with an RBI and now has three on the season.

Lethbridge outhit Okotoks 9-4. Each team had one error.

The Bulls head to Okotoks Friday to take on the Dawgs Black at 7:05 p.m.

Lethbridge is back at Spitz Stadium Sunday at 2:05 p.m. when the Dawgs Red return for the rematch.

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