June 15th, 2024

Four home run night leads Mavs to home opener win

By James Tubb on May 29, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB The Medicine Hat Mavericks celebrate catcher Nick Thibodeau's second home run of the game Wednesday, a 13-8 Mavs' win over the Saskatoon Berries at Athletic Park.

The Medicine Hat Mavericks gave the fans a berry, berry enjoyable home opener Wednesday.

The Mavs slugged four home runs and beat the Saskatoon Berries 13-8 in the first home game of the season at Athletic Park.

Catcher Nick Thibodeau hit two of the home runs, tallying five RBIs on the evening. He says it was just another night at the ballpark.

“I don’t try to go out there and try to do too much, I don’t try to hit home runs,” Thibodeau said. “I just go up there, clear my head and just go at it. Did I know both home runs were going to go out? . No, because I don’t like pimping stuff so I just run it out hard once I see it go over I slow down. But it’s just another day don’t try to do too much.”

The Mavs opened the offence early in the game, much to the delight of the 1,302 fans in attendance.

Centre fielder Brody Gardner hit a solo home run to his stomping grounds in centre field to kick things off. Two batters later, with both Jordan Phillips and Landon Mokris on base, Thibodeau blasted his first home run of the night. His three-run blast put Medicine Hat ahead 4-0.

After Saskatoon grabbed a run in the top of the fourth inning, Medicine Hat responded with three runs for a 7-1 lead. Shortstop Blake Dale scored on a wild pitch and both Phillips and Mokris hit RBI singles for the tallies.

Medicine Hat starter Jack Novak worked four innings, allowing the lone run on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Aiden Lenzen took over on the bump, working three innings with three strikeouts, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks.

Saskatoon nabbed two runs in the top of the fifth and again, the Mavs answered back.

Thibodeau made jam of a pitch, knocking out his second home run of the game for the 9-3 lead.

The Berries had a solo home run in the seventh before Phillips hit a two-run home run, his second blast of the season, for a 11-4 lead through seven frames. Phillips finished his night with three hits, two RBIs and three runs scored. He says the home runs are just a product of his mentality when he steps up to the plate.

“I’m just going to stick to my approach that I’ve been doing, really just seeing the ball and reacting, get into my two strike approach when I have two strikes,” Phillips said. “Not trying to do too much, just staying up the middle the other way. And if I pull it, it just happens, just ┬ásticking to the approach.”

Josh Notle took over on the mound for the Mavs in the eighth and worked the final two frames, with three strikeouts while allowing four runs on six hits with a walk.

Saskatoon plated three runs in the eighth that were almost matched with Medicine Hat tallying two runs of their own. Micah Dvorak came into the game as a replacement and in his first at bat notched an RBI single that was followed up by the same result from Marshall Burke for a 13-7 Mavs’ lead.

The Berries made a ninth-inning push, plating a run, but couldn’t overcome the lead and Medicine Hat held on for the 13-7 final. Head coach Kevin Mitchell liked his team’s approach at all aspects of the game Wednesday and is looking for the same when they host the Berries Thursday and the Swift Current 57’s on Friday.

“Good starting pitching makes everything easier, we’ve got (John) Walsh going tomorrow, a guy I have a lot of faith in,” Mitchell said. “He’s an older guys, has had a lot of success and we need him to be aggressive and fill up the zone. If our hitters, our offence, if we keep that mentality that we have and being aggressive and looking to do damage, that’s really what our recipe for success is going to be.”

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