By IAN WILSON
It’s East meets West.
Saskatchewan versus Alberta.
Our Game of the Week on Tuesday, July 5th at Elks Field in Brooks features two squads that are trying to right the ship and get back into the playoff picture in their respective Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) divisions.
The Weyburn Beavers are coming out of a grueling Canada Day weekend that saw them travel to three different ballparks of rival Saskatchewan clubs in the span of 24 hours before settling in for a two-game home series against the Medicine Hat Mavericks. Weyburn lost all five of those games and watched their record sink to 7-20 on the summer, leaving them in last place in the East Division, 12.5 games behind the first-place Moose Jaw Miller Express.
The Brooks Bombers have performed better this season, going 11-16 so far with a .500 stretch over their last 10 games that included a recent doubleheader split with the Okotoks Dawgs, the top team in the WCBL. They are currently 10 games behind the Dawgs in the West Division.
Offensively, the Bombers have done well at the plate, producing a .390 on-base percentage and 168 runs in 27 games. That represents an average of more than six runs per game. They’ve lived up to Bomb Squad handle, as well, blasting 21 long balls this year – only the Moose Jaw Miller Express have more.
The Beavers, on the other hand, have the second-lowest run total (145) and the least hits (220) in the WCBL. They have also collected the fewest total bases (289) this summer, sit last in stolen bases (8), and lead the circuit in strikeouts (266).
Whichever team comes out on top, however, it will likely be because of their bats. The pitching staffs of these two teams have allowed the most runs and hits in the WCBL, so strap in for a high-scoring contest. Brooks has also surrendered more home runs (23) than any other team.
KEEP AN EYE ON
There are a number of players worth keeping tabs on in both lineups.
Weyburn’s infield includes shortstop Ryan Dauphinee (.356 batting average, 12 runs in 18 games); veteran first baseman Nolan Machibroda (batting .315 with 12 doubles, 20 RBI and 24 runs in 27 games); third baseman Braeden Cordes (.312 average, 13 runs in 18 contests); and Caelen Dalman (13 RBI, 13 runs, .311 average through 17 games).
On the mound, starting pitchers Josh Wintroub and Jared Miller have been lights out for the Beavers. Wintroub is 2-0 with a complete game, a 2.25 earned run average (ERA), and 37 strikeouts through five starts and 32 innings of work. In his five starts, Miller has racked up 25 Ks in 26.2 innings while posting a 1.69 ERA.
In the Bombers dugout, watch for outfielder Matt Wolff (.363 average, 22 runs, 13 RBI, four homers in 27 games); outfielder Drew Mackie (batting .344, 15 runs, 13 RBI, seven stolen bases, 26 games); infielder Denver Blinn (22 runs, 19 RBI, .307 average, six swiped bags, three long balls in 24 contests); catcher Jimmy Costin (.307 average, three round trippers, 18 runs, 16 RBI through 22 matchups); and infielder Ryan Nagelbach (five homers, 17 runs, 15 RBI, .284 average in 20 games).
Some standout pitchers on Brooks include club strikeout leader Robert Liriano, a southpaw who has appeared in 11 WCBL games, recording 29 Ks in 32.1 innings while making seven starts. Oscarli Cruz has been a bullpen force for the Bombers, making 12 appearances and going 4-3 with 20 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. No pitcher has more wins than Cruz does on the squad’s pitching staff.
First pitch for our Game of the Week is set for 7:05 p.m. at Elks Field in Brooks. It’s East meets West. Saskatchewan versus Alberta. The Beavers take on the Bombers.