By IAN WILSON
Coming out of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) All-Star Game weekend, the postseason push is on.
While the Swift Current 57’s seem to have a secure hold on third place in the East Division, they can still move up in the standings. The 57’s are 23-23 on the season and are riding a five-game winning streak. They are five games back of the Moose Jaw Miller Express and just three games behind the Regina Red Sox.
Over in the West Division, the Okotoks Dawgs and Sylvan Lake Gulls have a firm grasp on the top two spots, but it’s a four-team scramble for the final two playoff positions. The Brooks Bombers currently have the edge on third place after sweeping the Lethbridge Bulls. Brooks sits at 21-24 on the year but the Bulls and Fort McMurray Giants are just a half-game behind them with 20-24 records. The Edmonton Prospects are in last place in the West Division but are only three games behind the postseason pace.
The Bombers and Giants are both looking to make the WCBL playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Brooks has one of the most potent offences in the league. The Bomb squad is first in home runs (40), total bases (700), on-base percentage (.403) and slugging percentage (.445). Their hitters are second in the WCBL in batting average (.303), runs scored (336), hits (477) and doubles (93).
The pitching is another story. Bomber hill toppers have recorded the second-worst earned run average (6.80 ERA) and opposing hitters have posted a .337 batting average when facing Brooks. No team has surrendered more long balls (46) or hit more batters (72). Only the Weyburn Beavers have allowed more earned runs.
Baseball fans should expect a high-scoring game at Mitchell Field.
Swift Current has posted a collective ERA of 6.38 while allowing other teams to put up a .311 batting average. The 57’s are prone to giving up homers, as well, having allowed 39 this summer. Swift Current also leads the WCBL in wild pitches (83).
The bats in Swift Current aren’t quite as lethal as they are in Brooks, but the 57’s can produce runs at an effective clip. Through 46 games, they’ve scored 287 runs, punched through 430 hits, registered 240 runs batted in and recorded a .368 on-base percentage.
Some players to keep an eye on for the 57’s include first baseman/outfielder Brody Alexandre, who has five homers and 25 RBI, as well as outfielder Cory Bonstrom (.330 average, 25 RBI, 11 stolen bases) and infielder Thomas Collins (.307 batting average, 39 runs, 23 RBI, eight stolen bases. Catcher Logan Grant (28 runs, 23 RBI, 11 stolen bases) has also had a strong campaign.
Standout pitchers for Swift Current include southpaw Kenny Jinks (4-1, 4.18 ERA, 52 strikeouts in 43 innings) and Adam Golby (2-2, 4.60 ERA, 42 Ks in 43 innings). Righthander Tejean Smith leads the club in saves, with four. In 10 appearances, Smith has a 3.00 ERA.
The 57’s will need great pitching to contend with Bomber batters Jimmy Costin (.331 average, seven homers, 39 runs, 39 RBI); Denver Blinn (.347 average, seven long balls, eight stolen bases, 42 runs, 38 RBI); Matt Wolff (.340 average, six home runs, 43 runs, 29 RBI); and Drew Mackie (.315 batting average, 10 stolen bases, 34 runs, 21 RBI).
On the bump, Robert Liriano (two saves, 41 Ks in 44.1 innings) and Brandon Van Buren (2-2, one save, 37 Ks in 46.1 innings) have both been dependable lefties for Brooks, whether they start or come out of the bullpen.
The Bombers and 57’s do battle at 7:05 p.m. in Swift Current tonight.