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Sunday July 30, 2017
Photo cred: Amanda Fewer
Story by: Dustin Saracini
Okotoks, AB - History was made today as the (35-13) Okotoks Dawgs notched their 35th win -- the most in franchise history -- with a 12-8 victory over the (20-28) Fort McMurray Giants. The last time the Dawgs had 34 in a year was in 2011.
In terms of where they stand in the WMBL record books, the red and white finish the 2017 campaign second all-time for wins in a single season, trailing just the 2013 Medicine Hat Mavericks, who won 39.
“It means a lot,” head coach Tyler Graham said after the game.
“These kids have been an awesome bunch of kids all summer. They all want to win and they’re all competitors and it’s been a blast to coach them.”
It was the Dawgs’ offence.lighting the scoreboard up on Pink in the Park day, launching four balls over the fence, sending their home run total to 50 in 2017 -- also the most in franchise history. Facing adversity, down 8-3, Kody Funderburk (Dallas Baptist) smoked his WMBL-leading 14th and 15th on the year -- he finished the game with seven RBI. Matt Lloyd (Indiana University - Okotoks, AB) barrelled his seventh and Greg Cullen (Niagara University) cracked his fifth.
On the mound, the bullpen preserved the drive for 35, combining for seven shutout innings. Zach Demchenko (Northeastern - Okotoks, AB), Brennen Lauffenburger (Linn Benton), Carter Johnson (University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley), Corey Jackson (New Mexico - Calgary, AB) and Funderburk all did their job in the Sunday matinee.
Following a two-run blast to left field from the Giants to open the game, the patient bats of the Dawgs in the bottom of the first proved to be too much to handle. Drawing a leadoff walk, a six-pitch at-bat and a single from Cullen put the red and white in business. A passed ball and an RBI groundout cut the deficit to one before a slap single from Funderburk knotted the contest. The pink jersey’s later took the lead off their second RBI groundout of the frame.
The Giants continued to exchange blows their next time at the plate, scoring six off three doubles and five hits to make it a 8-3 advantage.
Lloyd and Funderburk kicked off the comeback in the bottom of the fifth, cutting the deficit to three with a pair of back-to-back solo-bombs. Cullen picked up exactly where they left off the next inning, sending another solo-shot over the wall to draw the Dawgs within two, turning the lights on for Funderburk. With a 1-1 count, the Dallas Baptist product ripped his second blast of the contest for a two-run longball to tie things at eight -- his fifth multi-home run game of the campaign.
Okotoks broke it open in the bottom of the seventh, posting three runs for the second consecutive inning. With the bases loaded, Funderburk cleared them off a throwing error, putting the Dawgs into the driver’s seat for the first time on the afternoon, handing them a three-run edge.
Brendan Rose (UBC - Calgary, AB) put the game far out of reach in the bottom of the eighth, ripping an RBI single and the clubs 14th hit. Okotoks finished with 16 knocks on the day.
The Dawgs enjoy a day off tomorrow before game one of the playoffs begins Tuesday, August 1 against the Edmonton Prospects. First pitch flies at 7:05pm.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Kody Funderburk (R): 4-4, 7 RBI, 2 HR, .348 AVG
Matt Lloyd: 2-3, 3 R, 2 RBI, HR, .407 AVG
Greg Cullen (R): 2-6, 2 R, RBI, HR, .325 AVG
WP: Carter Johnson (1-0) LP: Alex Nolan (1-4)