By IAN WILSON
Can anyone beat the Okotoks Dawgs?
The Fort McMurray Giants are about to find out if they’re up to the task.
Nine games into the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) season, the Dawgs are a perfect 9-0 as they sit atop the West Division standings.
Okotoks leads the WCBL in all major offensive categories, including runs scored (84), hits (106), doubles (29), runs batted in (73) and total bases (160).
First baseman McCoy Pearce – who joined the Dawgs after playing for the Brooks Bombers and Edmonton Prospects in previous summers – is destroying baseballs in 2022. Through 37 at bats, Pearce is tops in the league in batting average (.486), hits (18), RBI (18), slugging percentage (.892) and on-base percentage (.525).
When Pearce isn’t pacing the team’s offence, infielder Brendan Luther is. The former Prospect is batting .421 with a WCBL-best 13 runs. Add in the production of outfielder Tucker Zdunich (.351 batting average, 11 RBI, nine runs, three stolen bases) and the juggernaut hitting of the Dawgs is proving to be a real handful for opposing pitchers.
Squads seeking weakness on the mound will have to squint pretty hard. The five-time WCBL champions have allowed the fewest runs (15) of any team this summer, permitting less than two scores per game, and shutting out opponents four times already. Okotoks has also surrendered the lowest number of hits (57) of any WCBL club. The fielding of the Dawgs is undoubtedly helping to support those figures, as Okotoks has a .991 fielding percentage and just three errors this season.
The Dawgs have a trio of pitchers with 2-0 records, including Julian Tymochko, Graham Seltzer and southpaw Graham Brunner. Each of the three pitchers has logged nine innings over two starts and Tymochko and Brunner have yet to yield a run, earned or otherwise. Seth Thompson, meanwhile, has a pair of saves and a 2.70 earned run average (ERA) out of the bullpen for the Dawgs.
GIANT TASK FOR FORT MAC
Facing the unenviable task of stopping this Big Red Machine are the Fort McMurray Giants.
The Giants have a 4-5 record on the year and they have a four-game homestand against the Dawgs that runs from Thursday, June 9th through Sunday, June 12th at Legacy Dodge Field.
Fort McMurray may not have the firepower of Okotoks, but their bats have been productive to start the year, averaging over 9 hits and 5 runs per game.
Infielder Charlie Towers leads the Giants in runs scored (8) and stolen bases (3), while catcher/outfielder Jordan Bach is batting .375 with 8 RBI through 40 at bats. Infielder Reiss Calvin has also looked good (.378 batting average, 5 runs, 5 RBI) for Fort Mac.
On the bump, the Giants are getting a strikeout per inning from their pitching staff, but batters are producing more than 5 runs per game against them.
Local product Sean Dunn has pitched well for Fort McMurray. In two starts, he’s put in 10.2 innings, while registering 9 Ks, a 2.53 ERA and a win. Dunn has only walked one hitter on the year. Starting pitcher Brady Wilson leads the club with 11 strikeouts through nine innings.
One area that has been a core strength for the Giants is their defence. They lead the WCBL in fielding percentage (.993) and have only committed two errors all season.
Can the Giants hand the Dawgs their first loss of the season, or will Okotoks remain undefeated after the weekend?