By Ryan McCracken on May 17, 2018.
Travis Small nearly lost his teeth Wednesday night at McCoy Field, but the Hat High Mohawks’ starting pitcher danced his way out of danger — literally, then figuratively.
Small’s Mohawks had a narrow one-run lead in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s Southern Alberta High School Baseball League game against the Brooks Buffalos when a hot shot came screaming off the bat of Dax Wandler and back to the mound. He managed to get his glove in the way and deflect the ball past him into the outfield before pitching out of a bases-loaded jam and closing out a 3-2 victory.
“I was really scared. That was close. It bounced right off my glove and hit me in the ear. It was very scary, that was a hard-hit ball, I’ll give him that,” said Small, who held Brooks to two runs on four hits while fanning 10 through seven innings to secure the victory. “We buckled down and got out of it.”
Despite being held to just four hits — two of which came off the bat of Zach Stark —the Mohawks managed to rally behind a series of quality at-bats in a three-run third inning then hold Brooks to a single run in the final four frames to improve to 9-2 on the year.
“We battled hard, we battled through, we never took our foot off the gas,” said Small. “There were a bunch of pop flies here and there but this really shows how hard our team likes to work.”
Tory Nelson and Dane Weiss led the offence with an RBI apiece, while Stark reached base in all three of his at-bats.
Wandler took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits through five complete innings. Carson Troidl closed out the game with a clean sixth.
Hat High head coach Lyall Foran says his players managed to bear down when it mattered most by stranding seven Buffalos on base and only committing three errors in a very close ball game.
“To be in those games is really important when you’re looking later on down the season. Come the provincial tournaments when you’re going to be in those tight games, you just want to know you can perform in those situations,” he said. “It’s really important just for those guys to have confidence in themselves.”
The Mohawks head to Vauxhall Tuesday to take on the Vikings.
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