By medicinehatnews on August 16, 2014.
The excitement among the 1,184 fans packed into Athletic Park was electric by the ninth inning, with one out left.
The Medicine Hat Mavericks were ahead and needed one more out to secure the Western Major Baseball League Championship, their first championship since 2003.
The team had made it to the finals for three seasons in a row, but settled for runner-up. Saturday night, they would be the champions.
Josh Johnson of the Swift Current Indians hit the ball to centre field, where it was easily caught by Bryan Arthur to roars from the crowd and his teammates. The Mavericks stormed the field, winning 6-3, taking the championship series three games to one.
â€œIt was the best feeling Iâ€™ve had in my sports life,â€ said Arthur, a three-year veteran of the team. â€œI just wanted to go and hug my teammates. I just wanted to run in as fast as I could.â€
â€œItâ€™s the greatest feeling,â€ said C.J. DeDeaux, the four year veteran of the Mavericks following the game. â€œFor four years, we battled. This is our third time in the championship, and we got it done this year. Itâ€™s great.
â€œI thought about it every day. I know I have my college season to focus on, but this was in the back of my mind. I wanted to come back up here and get this last one. It means a lot to me. It means a lot to Wheezy (Garrett Wiese), Arthur, Ollie (Michael Olson), Schroter, the guys who have been here a while.â€
The Mavericks took control of the game early. Sheldon Daquioag got things start with a RBI double to bring home Blake Rowlett and Garrett Wiese. The two runs scored also spelled an early end to Indians starter Fernando Penaâ€™s game, bringing in Zack Manley to finish the game.
Daquioag and Jose Cruz both finished the game with a pair of RBIs each, while Wiese scored three runs.
â€œI was just going crazy (after the game),â€ said Cruz. â€œIâ€™ve been in championships before but have never won it. I was really just excited and I was just happy.â€
Mavericks head coach Adam Shorsher said strong at-bats and â€œfortuitous bouncesâ€ helped the team jump in front.
â€œWe had a big play where they threw the ball away on a bunt,â€ he said. â€œGetting up 6-0 is a pretty comfortable lead, but nothing is too comfortable in this league. Theyâ€™re obviously a very good team, they came back on us to make it tight at the end.â€
Johnson, Matt Spillman and Kevin Bettencourt added runs for the Indians late in the game, but the Mavericks were able to hold on.
â€œBoth teams laid it out on the line, and unfortunately, we didnâ€™t come out on top,â€ said Indians head coach Joe Carnahan. â€œWe have to give an congratulations to Medicine Hat, they had an outstanding season, and an outstanding playoff run. They deserved the championship. They played well throughout the series.”
He added, â€œAs a coach, the one thing that you always want, and that you always look for is teams that battle, teams that fight until the very end. Our guys did that. They fought until the very end. Theyâ€™re a tight-knit group, a great group of guys. Iâ€™m very proud to have been able to coach them.â€
For Mavericks owner and general manager Greg Morrison, the win was extra special, his first since taking ownership of the team.
â€œIâ€™ll let it take all winter to settle in,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s just remarkable. You put the work in because you love it. You donâ€™t do it for this, but when it happens, itâ€™s a great reward for the efforts of my family, the fans, the sponsors and the players who went above and beyond to make it work for us.â€
Following the game, Arthur handed Morrison the game-winning ball as the Mavericks celebrated on the field.
â€œHe got me on that one,â€ he said. â€œHe gave me the ball and really surprised me that heâ€™d pay attention to get the game-winning ball. Heâ€™s been a great leader through playoffs.â€
The celebration continued long through the evening at the park, with players and coaches and fans hanging out on the field, soaking in the moment.