June 22nd, 2024

Opener between Mavs, Beavers lives up to billing

By Sean Rooney on July 3, 2018.

NEWS PHOTO SEAN ROONEY
Medicine Hat Mavericks' Carson Johnson (5) scores the winning run off Zack Gray's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Weyburn Beavers Monday, July 2, 2018 at Athletic Park.


srooney@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNRooney

It wasn’t his biggest swing of the night, but it sure was Zach Gray’s best.

The Medicine Hat Mavericks first baseman knocked a bounding game-winning single off Weyburn closer Eric Evans Monday to give the home team a dramatic 8-7 win at Athletic Park.

“I knew he was throwing hard, I was struggling up to this point,” said Gray. “I was just hoping to help the team out, you know? I got a good pitch to hit and hit it hard.”

After an earlier bases-loaded single kept his team close, then a solo home run kept them inching closer, Gray punctuated the come-from-behind win between the best teams in the Western Major Baseball League. He finished 3-for-5 with 5 RBI as the Mavs (21-3) extended their winning streak to 11 games. Weyburn (20-6) has now lost three of its last four.

“We came into these two games knowing they were two of the best teams in the league,” said Gray, an Ohio product. “We knew we had to play our game. Even if we get down a couple runs we know we can play with anybody.”

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And the Mavs did play from behind for the second night in a row.

Weyburn struck for four runs in the second inning, thanks in part to a trio of Jared Libke pitches that got past catcher David Vilches. Felix Correa capped the frame with a two-run single.

Vilches helped make up for the mistakes, leading off the third inning with a home run off Conner DiNaro. Gray’s two-out, bases-loaded single narrowed the Beavers lead to 5-3.

Libke didn’t last any longer though, and Weyburn tacked on two more with reliever Junior Pimentel taking over in the fourth.

Then the home team buckled down.

Pimentel went four innings, allowing only one hit before Sean Cruz blanked the Beavers for two innings.

David Salgueiro doubled and scored in the fifth, Gray’s no-doubter to right field led off the sixth and Julien Ly singled home Louie Canjura in the eighth. They’d have scored in the seventh, too, but for an incredible diving catch from Weyburn centre-fielder Keaton Greenwalt.

Rain drenched players in the late innings but, almost as a sign of what was to come for the remainder of the announced crowd of 558, slowed to a few drops here and there for the ninth.

Salgueiro walked, so did Carson Johnson, then Colton Wright laid down a bunt that flummoxed Weyburn third baseman Anthony Galindo.

With the bases loaded, a drawn-in infield and nobody out, Gray was free to swing.

The teams are back at it Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.

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