July 21st, 2024

Mavs riding high following Sask road trip

By JAMES TUBB on July 11, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Mavericks pitcher Jacob Petersheim shakes catcher Nick Thibodeau's hand after recording the final out of a 8-5 win Tuesday at Athletic Park over the Swift Current 57's.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

The outside temperature isn’t the only thing heating up in Medicine Hat.

As mercury rises in thermometers, the Medicine Hat Mavericks are getting just as hot, coming off a 5-1 stretch in their last six games and are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

The Mavs swept a two-game set against the Saskatoon Berries on July 4 and 5 (8-2, 12-4), they split a series with the Regina Red Sox on July 6 (4-0 loss) and 7 (10-4 win) before picking up a pair of wins over the Weyburn Beavers on Monday (11-2) and the Swift Current 57’s on Tuesday (8-5).

It’s a stretch that has the Mavs still in second place of the East division with a record of 21-14, half a game up on the Moose Jaw Miller Express (2014). More importantly, they’ve vastly narrowed the ground between themselves and the first place Regina Red Sox, sitting just two games back of the division leaders (23-12).

Head coach Kevin Mitchell says the 5-1 stretch was crucial in the standings and confidence wise for his club.

“Every game the rest of the way is really important, down the stretch of the season, so coming through the halfway point and playing the way we are right now, it’s full steam ahead,” Mitchell said. “The guys feel that, they trust each other, they love each other and it’s a really good group. They’re really talented so things are good right now.”

Medicine Hat entered the road trip off a stretch of winning and losing games with a pendulum swing. A pair of wins over the Edmonton Prospects and Weyburn on June 30 and July 1 was met with a 6-4 loss July 2 to the Sylvan Lake Gulls where the Mavs blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning.

Before that, the Mavs traded wins with the Okotoks Dawgs after a mini three-game losing streak. Tuesday’s win showcased a growing maturity the Mavs have found as of late.

They fell behind early, giving up a three-run home run in the first inning before tying the contest up in the third. Swift Current battled back and regained a lead in the next frame before Medicine Hat scored a combined five runs in the sixth and eighth innings for the win.

The ability to take a couple of punches and fight back is a trend Mitchell has seen and is encouraged by from the Mavs.

“Something we’ve been talking about recently is, good or bad, you have to move on,” Mitchell said. “As soon as a play is done, as soon as the pitch is over, you’ve got to move on to the next one. That goes for games during a winning streak or a losing streak. You can’t really count on what you did yesterday, to do it for you the next day. That’s from at bat to at bat, pitch to pitch.

“Those mistakes, they hurt in the moment, but being able to put them behind us and trust that we’ll have other opportunities, has served as well. I hope we continue to do that.”

Medicine Hat utilized a different pitching deployment in Tuesday’s win.

Starting the game with left-hander Evan Gant, who has worked primarily out of the bullpen in the red and white but was a starter at Blue Mountain College. He was lifted in the second inning and replaced with Adam Golby, who joined the team mid-season. The third and final pitcher used was Jacob Petersheim, who had started six of his seven previous appearances and sits fourth in the WCBL in innings pitched.

Mitchell says Gant just wasn’t himself in the start and he had no concerns about the freshman. As for the pitching plan in the game, Mitchell says there was no set reason for which arms threw when and he liked seeing the flexibility and the dependability from his staff.

“The pitching staff has been great for the last 10 days and it’s nothing special, it’s just throwing strikes, throwing more strikes and trusting the defence and pitchers trusting their stuff,” Mitchell said. “If they continue to do that, there’s no reason that you can’t kind of pass the torch and each guy can go out and have a good performance.”

The Mavs had an off day Wednesday, hosting their second all-star camp. They host the Edmonton Prospects at Athletic Park tonight before opening up a likely playoff-implication three-game home stand against the Miller Express.

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