June 12th, 2024

Coming home for Game 5

By Sean Rooney on August 16, 2018.

PHOTO COURTESY WANDA HARRON
Catcher Reed Odland of the Medicine Hat Mavericks tags out Phil Langlois of the Regina Red Sox to end the seventh inning of Game 4 of the Western Major Baseball League finals on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 at Currie Field in Regina.


srooney@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNRooney

Hands up if you saw this coming: Game 5, tonight at Athletic Park with the Medicine Hat Mavericks having lost twice in a row to the Regina Red Sox.

OK Sox fans, we see you.

The Western Major Baseball League season is going the distance after the loose-as-can-be Sox won 9-5 at Currie Field Wednesday, tying the best-of-five series 2-2.

“Obviously a little bummed right now,” said Mavericks coach Andrew Murphy over the phone minutes after the final pitch in Regina. “We just made a lot of uncharacteristic plays, that’s what pressure will do.”

While Murphy is about the calmest coach the Mavs have ever had, even he had to bite his tongue after an evening where his team’s undisputed leader was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, and two of his most sure-handed fielders made inexplicable errors that proved to be the difference in front of a crowd announced as 860. That included dozens of Hat fans who made the trip east expecting to celebrate a title either Tuesday or Wednesday.

“That umpire didn’t have a lot of two-way calls, but we need to be calmer in that situation and forget about it,” said Murphy of the Saskatchewan-based crew including home plate umpire Trevor Drury, plus Braden Lonsberry and Elemer Jerkovits. “Hopefully when we get home that will be a calming factor.”

Colton Wright was tossed for arguing with Drury in the seventh, but that seemed to briefly spark an offence that was shut down for both road games in the series. Nolan Rattai doubled home Carson Johnson and Zack Gray to trim the Sox lead to 6-5.

But like they have all playoffs, Regina had a response. A trio of hits on reliever Sean Cruz loaded the bases, then Danny Hunt hit a soft liner that dropped in front of second baseman Rattai, who bobbled it, then shorted a throw home that allowed an insurance run to score.

Even David Salgueiro throwing out a runner at home from centre-field to limit the damage wasn’t enough. Previously patient Hat hitters were put down in five pitches by reliever Anthony Race, then a two-run eighth off previously unhittable Tyler Shumpert gave the Sox extra cushion. That featured a bizarre error by first baseman Sal Rodriguez, who missed a routine catch for an out.

Adam De La Cruz worked a 1-2-3 ninth but it was starter Eric Rogers who got the win, limiting Medicine Hat to three runs in six innings.

The Mavs scored first for the first time in the series, Louie Canjura’s two-run double in the fourth exactly what they wanted, but Regina responded with a devastating six runs of Hat starter Jared Libke in the bottom of the inning. A Libke error didn’t help, then De La Cruz, who also went 3-for-5 at the plate before pitching, hit a two-run double to welcome Cruz to the mound.

The only good news about coming home after losing twice in Regina is that the Mavericks won the first two Sunday and Monday, the latter in front of a packed house of 1,821 at Athletic Park.

They’re hoping for some similar energy as they seek their third WMBL title. Regina, meanwhile, will look for a repeat of 2012 when the won the crown on Medicine Hat’s field.

“Hopefully they’ll give our guys some needed energy, but we need to be calmer under pressure and make the routine plays,” said Murphy, who will start Jaymon Cervantes on the mound. “We play really well at home. It would be a shame not to win it at our place, but if they do we’ll tip our cap.”

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