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Monday June 19, 2017
Photo cred: Amanda Fewer
Story by: Dustin Saracini
Edmonton, AB - The (10-4) Okotoks Dawgs hold on to the top spot in the West division for another night.
Up against the (8-5) Edmonton Prospects at RE/MAX Field, the red and white took a 5-3 victory, stretching their winning streak to three and earning their third win of the season series.
On the mound, Anthony Balderas (Lewis-Clark State College) pitched a tremendous game. Normally a reliever, Balderas came in and went five strong shutout innings, striking out four while allowing just two hits.
“He didn’t know how he was going to go about throwing, because he hasn’t started a game in so long,” his catcher, John Hawk (Iowa Western) said following the contest.
“He did a great job, he was mixing all his pitches in, really commanding his fastball, which really shuts teams’ hitting down when you can work both sides of the plate.”
Hawk himself had another impressive outing at the dish, driving in four runs with his third multi-hit game of the campaign.
“It feels like a beach ball right now,” he said.
“I made some adjustments a week ago, I added a leg kick and the ball looks fat right now … I try not to think at all when I’m hitting, I just try to let the game come to me and slow it down.”
For the fourth straight contest, the Dawgs found themselves on the scoreboard first.
Okotoks capitalized on an early throwing error, setting Hawk up with two runners on and one out. Like he has done all season long, Hawk came up clutch, extending his hitting streak to six with a deep line drive to the left-centre gap, scoring two on an RBI triple. The Iowa Western freshman has now registered nine base-knocks in six games. He would later cross the plate on a wild pitch. Earlier in the inning, Zach Hanna (University of Alabama) recorded a single before scoring, moving his streak to six as well.
Hawk kept the offence coming four innings later. Kody Funderburk (Dallas Baptist) led things off in the top of the sixth with a nine-pitch walk, moving up 180-feet courtesy of a double down the right field line from Hanna -- his 10th hit in his last six games played. The Prospects were an out away from retiring the inning until Hawk stepped in, chipping a double over third base, scoring both runners for his third and fourth RBI on the night.
Edmonton bounced back in the bottom half of the frame, scoring three and inching within two. A bases-clearing triple off the bat of Jake Lanferman did the damage.
The offence of the Prospects would be contained the rest of the way.
Drew Smernes (Lane Community College) went on to pitch a three-up, three-down seventh while Tyler Burdett (Dixie State) threw 1.1 innings of shutout baseball. Burdett, who has earned the role of the closer for the Dawgs thus far, came on in the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs, issuing a flyout to preserve the 5-3 win.
Burdett has yet to allow a run this season -- tonight was his eighth appearance.
The Dawgs eye their fourth straight win and a series sweep tomorrow as they renew hostilities with these same Prospects.
First pitch is set for 7:05pm.
BY THE NUMBERS:
John Hawk (R): 2-4, R, 4 RB, .375 AVG
Zach Hanna (R): 3-4, 2 R, .342 AVG
Anthony Balderas: 5 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 SO
WP: Anthony Balderas (1-0) LP: Jordan Parranto (1-1)