June 14th, 2024

Big inning powers Bulls past the Gulls

By Dale Woodard on July 10, 2021.

Fireworks lit up the night sky following the Western Canadian Baseball League game between the Lethbridge Bulls and the Sylvan Lake Gulls Friday night.

Turns out, the Bulls only needed one inning to light off a few offensive fireworks of their own following a 7-0 decision over the Gulls that improves Lethbridge to 7-5.

After battling it out through six scoreless innings the Bulls lit the fuse in the seventh inning for a 6-0 lead that wasn’t in jeopardy through the final two innings.

Meanwhile, Bulls starter Levi Abbott worked eight shutout innings, allowing three hits and no runs, walking one and striking out 14.

First baseman Ty Penner provided the other defensive gem, turning a key double play in the sixth inning with the Gulls threatening to keep the game scoreless.

“I was kind of scared at the start, actually,” said Abbott.

“My bullpen wasn’t very good and in the first inning I had no off-speed. After that first inning, I think that’s what actually brought everything together. I was able to make adjustments on the curveball and slider. I thought everything felt good. It’s one of those days where you’re not thinking about where you’re throwing the baseball, you’re just throwing the baseball. I just kept it simple and everything worked out today.”

But for six innings, Abbott battled Gulls starter Ty Bordeau to a scoreless duel.

And it was the Gulls who nearly hit the scoresheet first before Penner’s defensive heroics kept it scoreless.

Sylvan Lake put runners on in the sixth inning when Cleary Simpson singled to lead off and Brayden Cust was hit by a pitch.

Then, with runners on the corners with one out, Penner hauled in a shot down the line off the bat of Kyle Froelich, gunned a throw to second to force out Nolan Weger and got to the bag in time to get the throw from shortstop Mike Fitzsimmons to get Froelich and complete the double play.

“That might have been the turning point in the game, really,” said Bulls head coach Chance Wheatley. “They’re in line to score a run and that could change the whole game. Great play by Ty.”

Then in the seventh inning the Bulls shattered the goose egg.

Lethbridge put runners on first and second with none out when Brad Goodwin singled to lead off and Dalton Demers was hit by a pitch.

Goodwin then scored on a wild pitch and Demers scored on a deep double to centre field off the bat of Ty Wevers to put Lethbridge up 2-0.

Lethbridge added two more as Jack Ray and Wevers scored on an error to the pitcher for a 4-0 lead and upped that to 6-0 when Penner doubled to score Fitzsimmons and Kalen Haney.

The Bulls added one more in the eighth when Demers scored on a wild pitch.

Until his team blew it open in the seventh, Abbott said he enjoyed being locked in a pitchers’ duel with Bordeau, who was pulled after Goodwin singled to start off the seventh.

“Absolutely, that’s what gives you the motive to go out there and just shove it for another inning,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re up a bunch of runs you can get sloppy and that’s when they start tacking on hits and runs.”

Abbott concurred with his head coach about Penner’s key double play in the sixth inning being the game changer.

“One hundred ten per cent agree,” he said. “The play before that he made and extraordinary, superman layout, flipped it to me and got the hit on that play. So after that, the double play was huge. An absolute game-changer.”

Abbott threw 99 pitches before Ardan Berg came on in the ninth to close it out.

“Abbott was fantastic, again, today. It’s easy to play behind him when he’s working at that pace, throwing strikes like that and our offence finally came through,” said Wheatley.

“When he’s on, he’s pounding the zone with three different pitches and that’s what we saw tonight, just attacking the zone with three pitches.”

Goodwin was 1-for-4 with one run scored and started the seventh inning blowout.

“We try to keep it loose, but still bear down and have good at-bats and keep working the pitcher,” said Goodwin.

Meanwhile, Abbott worked eight deep into his start to secure the win.

“It’s great,” said Goodwin. “Every time he gets on the mound we feel confident in him, like all of our starters. We feel really confident with him on the mound.”

The Bulls outhit the Gulls 7-3.

Hitting leadoff, Fitzsimmons was 3-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI.

Penner hit 2-for-4 with two RBI, giving him seven on the season.

Bordeau allowed one run on four hits, walking one and striking out four in taking the loss for the Gulls.

The Bulls hit the road for eight straight games, starting Sunday in Sylvan Lake.

The team returns to Spitz Stadium July 21 when the Okotoks Dawgs Black pay a visit at 7:05 p.m.

With Friday’s win, the Bulls sit in second in the WCBL, a half game back of the 8-5 Edmonton Prospects.

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