June 19th, 2024

Bulls top the top Dawgs (Black)

By Dale Woodard on August 3, 2021.

Noah Or has been known to deliver a hit or two for the Lethbridge Bulls this year.

Playing their third game in as many days, the Bulls downed the Western Canadian Baseball League-leading Okotoks Dawgs Black 10-3 on Heritage Day Monday afternoon at Spitz Stadium, pounding out 16 hits.

Deadlocked 2-2 with the Dawgs Black after Lethbridge’s Brad Goodwin tied things up with a solo shot in the fifth, Or was part of a five-run sixth inning that gave the Bulls a cozy lead they never gave up on their way to the win that improves them to 16-15.

It also gave them a 2-1 weekend after splitting a two-game set with the Sylvan Lake Gulls, winning 8-4 Saturday night, but dropping a tough 13-11 decision Sunday.

In the sixth inning, Or smacked a double that scored Josh Kabayama to make it 4-2 and later crossed along with Goodwin on a Nick Gravel double for a 7-2 cushion.

On the mound, Bulls starter Bryce Fraser tossed six innings, allowing two runs on three hits, walking one and striking out four for his first win of the season that puts him at 1-1.

Or batted 1-for-4 and hit his 20th RBI of the season.

“He just hits,”said Bulls head coach Chance Wheatley with a chuckle about his catcher. “He has been huge for us. He’s been very solid behind the plate and he calls a good game all around. He’s been awesome.”

The Bulls struck in the first inning when shortstop Mike Fitzsimmons doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fielder’s choice from Dick.

The Dawgs Black briefly got to Fraser with a two-out rally in the top of the fifth.

Nicolas Fortin doubled off the centre field wall to score Connor Crowson and Dryden Howse for a brief 2-1 lead.

Lethbridge got that one back in the fifth off a towering drive from Goodwin that rattled off the left field scoreboard to tie it at 2-2. It was Goodwin’s second round-tripper of the season.

Then came the five-run sixth that put the hosts ahead for good.

Dalton Demers drew a leadoff walk and scored on a single from Dick for a 3-2 lead.

The Bulls doubled that lead with Or’s double.

“We had a couple of guys who got on before me,” said Or, who is now batting .382. “Carlin had a nice hit before me. I saw fastball on the outer half and I was able to put it down the line.”

Lethbridge brought three more runners across before the sixth inning was over.

Dick scored on an error to second before Or and Goodwin came in on Gravel’s double.

The Dawgs Black got one back in the seventh inning when Fortin doubled in Crowson, but the Bulls salted the win with three more runs in the eighth inning.

Goodwin singled in Dick and then scored on a hit from Torrin Vaselenak.

Gravel scored on a sacrifice fly from Ty Wevers to round out the scoring.

“The Dawgs Black are a tough team to beat,” said Or of Okotoks, who is now 18-11 and three games up on the second-place Bulls. “They have a lot of good players on that side and we were able to get a couple through the infield to explode in the sixth.”

Or, whose batting average is third-best in the league, was quick to share this season’s success with his all-Canadian crew with border restrictions due to COVID-19 keeping American players down south this summer.

“It’s not so much me, I think it’s just the team environment,” he said. “All the players Chance has picked to build the Bulls this year, with all Canadians we have a good group of guys. It’s nice to go back to the locker room and celebrate with these guys.”

The fifth inning aside, Wheatley said he was happy with Fraser’s start.

“He got into a little bit of trouble in that one inning, but other than that I was really happy with him. He got ahead of a lot of hitters and was pounding the zone. That’s all you can ask for.”

“It was just staying calm with it,” added Fraser. “I was just trying to make my pitches for the guys. I was a little bit up and down, but I battled.

“I was just trying to make every pitch count and was just attacking.”

The win and the 2-1 homestand puts the Bulls into second in the WCBL, a trio of games behind the Dawgs Black and half a game up on the Gulls as the season heads into the final two weeks.

After helping his team to the win Monday, Fraser is enjoying a good old-fashioned stretch drive.

“I love it,” said the local talent. “Every game matters and you can’t take any game off.”

The Bulls enjoyed a come-from-behind win over the Gulls Saturday, but some costly throwing errors haunted them in Sunday’s game.

Lethbridge was able to battle back from an 8-0 deficit with seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it close, but the Gulls squashed any comeback hopes with a four-run seventh inning to move up 12-8 on their way to the win.

“For the most part, I’m pretty happy with (the weekend),” said Wheatley. “We had the one game Sunday that was very frustrating. But all in all I’m pretty happy with the weekend.”

In Monday’s win, six of nine Bulls had multi-hit games.

Goodwin led the charge, going 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI, giving him 27 this year, tying him for first in the league with Kaden Zarowny of the Dawgs Black and Kyle Froelich of Sylvan Lake.

Dick was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI, giving him 26 and one behind the three leaders for tops in the WCBL.

Fitzsimmons was 2-for-4 with one run scored, Gravel hit 2-for-5 with one run scored and two RBI, Vaselenak batted 2-for-5 with one RBI and Demers went 2-for-4 at the dish with one run scored.

Bulls reliever Flynn Ridley threw one inning after Fraser exited, giving up one run and one hit, walking two and striking out three.

Local pitcher Kyle Bloor mopped up the last two innings, allowing no runs on two hits, walking two and striking out one.

For the Dawgs Black, Fortin hit 3-for-4 and had two RBI.

Leadoff hitter Tyrese Johnson was 2-for-5.

The Bulls head to Okotoks Wednesday for a rematch with the Dawgs Black at 7:05 p.m. and take on the Dawgs Red Thursday, also at 7:05 p.m. in Okotoks.

The Bulls are back at Spitz Stadium Saturday night when they host the Edmonton Prospects at 7:05 p.m.

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