EDMONTON, AB - You couldn’t have scripted a better opening weekend for the Edmonton Prospects if you tried.
After a pair of games this weekend, the Prospects are 2-0 under new head coach Jordan Blundell. The early results are promising, says Blundell, who’s beginning his first tenure as bench boss at the WCBL level.
“The guys are pulling for each other already,” commented the head coach. “I think we’ve got a great group of kids, and that bodes well for our ability to pull it out late in the games when the stakes are high.”
Following an offseason that featured the hiring of a new head coach and over 20 new players signed, some had questions about how the 2019 edition of the Edmonton Prospects would look on the field.
Not so anymore.
The Prospects opening weekend, frankly, was a resounding success. Yes, there are kinks to work out prior to the playoffs, but it was a promising debut from a new-look Edmonton squad.
As we will throughout the 2019 WCBL season, we recap.
Saturday’s home opener was as picture-perfect as it gets for the Edmonton Prospects. With over 3,000 fans in attendance, the Prospects looked primed to make a statement in their first game of the 2019 WCBL season.
“If you tried to write a perfect script for opening night, (Saturday’s) exactly how you’d have written it,” said Blundell. “What an experience for our fans and our players to have something special happen. It was Hollywood-esque with everything going on for Opening Day. It was a really awesome experience.”
All looked well in the early goings of the game. The team was able to jump out to a 2-0 lead by the bottom of the fifth, scoring on runs from Jake Gheri (C) and outfielder Tanner Roundy.
However, a three-run seventh inning from the Bulls gave Lethbridge a late lead.
While the Bulls carried their lead through the 9th, it set the stage for some heroics courtesy of Prospects outfielder Pierce Blowhowiak. At the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded, a walk-off single by Blowhowiak allowed both Tyler Maskill and Katsu Takahashi to score, giving the Prospects a clutch 5-4 victory, Blundell’s first as a WCBL head coach.
“It’s a good baseball player that can separate their previous at-bats and go into your last at-bat with a positive mindset,” commented Blundell of Blowhowiak’s clutch single. “That’s what good baseball players do; they’re able to separate what’s happened up to that point and walk into the moment and have a good at-bat. It was nice to see him rewarded with a great result (this weekend).”
Blundell was also quick to praise both Gheri and Maskill, who had strong outings at the plate in picking up a pair of hits.
“Jake was great behind the plate,” said Blundell. “He’s going to help us all summer; he’s got a tough workload, both catching and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Jake’s someone we count on to have good at-bats for us, and he showed that in spades on Saturday.”
“Tyler had a great Opening Day, too,” continued the head coach. “He made a couple plays defensively and was a catalyst offensively. He put a bunch of great numbers up across his stat line and was able to help out in a few areas, including that clutch stolen base at third.”
Starting pitcher Taran Oulton went 6.2 innings, allowing six hits and striking out five.
While Saturday may have required some late-game heroics, Sunday was, well, a completely different ballgame altogether.
While the Prospects found themselves down 2-0 early in Sunday’s game, the team was dominant through both the third and fourth innings, putting up three runs in each. The stanza’s included the first home run at RE/MAX Field this season, with Pierce Blowhowiak going yard in the bottom of the 4th. While a series of defensive lapses in the 6th inning allowed the Bulls to pull within two, it was as close as Lethbridge would make it on the afternoon. The combination of Scott Gillespie, Austin Herrington and Trever Berg were able to contain the Bulls offence and lead the Prospects to a 7-5 victory.
“We were able to take advantage of some of the mistakes the Bulls made. Unfortunately, we allowed them to bridge the gap, but we stuck with it and continued to grind. It’s a good sign that the guys were able to lock it down when they needed to and pull out a W.”
It was a statement opening weekend for the team, said Blundell proudly.
“It’s a great thing to have happen to us early in the year,” said Blundell of his team’s clutch play. “It plants the seed in our ballclubs head that we can come back and do something late in the game. There’s no better time to figure that out than the first games of the year.”
The Prospects kick off a 4-in-4 stretch this Thursday at home against the Okotoks Dawgs. Following Thursday’s action, the team hits the road for the 2nd half of back-to-backs against Okotoks. The Prospects then return home for two games against the Brooks Bombers on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for the Prospects weekend action against the Dawgs and Bombers are available online.
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