June 23rd, 2024

Mavericks clinch playoff spot with 16 games remaining

By Sean Rooney on July 14, 2018.

Medicine Hat News

With two weeks left in the regular season, the Medicine Hat Mavericks will be able to ensure all arms are ready for August, when playoffs begin. But if you dig down into the statistics, they’re already doing a pretty good job of that.

For a team that’s scored by far the most runs (281, compared to second-place Lethbridge’s 213) and let up the least (144, with Regina second at 145 in the same number of games), none of Medicine Hat’s pitchers are in the top 15 in innings pitched. Jumpei Akunama is 17th with 34 1/3 thrown, followed closely by Jared Libke and Jaymon Cervantes at 33, but none of the rotation has to worry about overtaxing themselves. The team has more help in the bullpen this summer, with more than a dozen hurlers available down the stretch.

As many a team before them has found out the hard way, it’s all about what you’ve got for those (maximum three) best-of-five series in August. Last year’s Mavericks ran out of arms and lost to Edmonton. One year, both WMBL finalists ran out of available players and the title wasn’t even handed out, but that’s a whole other story.

Even Medicine Hat’s fielding is vastly improved over a year ago, when they committed the third-most errors in the league. So far this year they’ve got the fourth-least errors.

It’s all enough to get fans excited for what could be. But keep in mind the last time a Mavericks team was this dominant, they got all the way to the finals only to be swept. The best teams don’t always win trophies.

Home run kings

A lot’s been made this week of the WMBL’s new home run king.

Brooks’ Riley MacDonald hit his 18th and 19th home runs of the season Saturday in Melville, and the league sent out a special press release commemorating the fact he beat the old record of 18, set by Lethbridge’s Jesse Sawyer (who now coaches the Bulls) in 2011.

There was a Medicine Hat Mavericks player who set the record before that. Josh Talley hit 17 in 2006

Talley, from Great Falls, Mont., obliterated the former mark of 10.

Some players have argued that MacDonald plays half his games at the tiny (350 feet to centre-field, 310 to the foul poles) Elks Field. It should be noted that he’s hit seven of those homers away from Brooks.

MacDonald, a North Vancouver product who finished his senior year at Waldorf University in Iowa, played for the WMBL’s Yorkton Cardinals in 2015, hitting a meagre .171 with zero home runs. Whatever he’s done since then has worked, as he’s hitting .367 this season.

Prospects pitcher perfect

For the second year in a row, a member of the Edmonton Prospects threw a no-hitter.

But this time, it was perfect.

Rich Walker sat down all 27 batters he faced in Fort McMurray June 29, striking out nine and not giving up either a hit or even a walk.

Last year, the Prospects’ Zaine Foth-Thomas no-hit the Brooks Bombers.

For the fans

The Mavericks have put a premium on improving the fan experience in recent years, and this weekend is no exception.

The team will host its second-annual Superhero Night Saturday, with special comic-book-inspired jerseys to be sold off in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital. That game starts at 7:05 p.m., not to be confused with the 3 p.m. game in which the Giants will be the home team because their home game June 22 was rained out. Special superhero characters, contests and giveaways are planned.

On Sunday the team will hold its third annual Battle of the Badges game at noon. Fire and police department members will play with money being raised for the local food bank. Admission is $10, which also gets you into the 2:05 p.m. WMBL game.

They’ve already done a special jersey night for Canada Day (military appreciation). The last themed night of the season is a new one, Girl Power Night Tuesday, July 24. Sales of those (presumably pink) jerseys will go towards the Canadian Cancer Society for breast cancer.

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