BY JAMES TUBB ON AUGUST 8, 2022.
The Medicine Hat Mavericks opened their playoffs on a high note.
The Mavericks beat the Red Sox 11-7 in Regina on Monday to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-3 semi-final series. They return home Tuesday with a chance to win the series at Athletic Park.
Mavericks head coach Tyler Jeske said he was happy with the win but cautioned that their job is not done yet.
“The job’s not done yet, it’s one win and you need two,” Jeske said. “Regina is a very talented team that plays hard and they’ve got great pitching, they’ve got offence galore. Tomorrow is definitely going to be a battle as well but winning game 1 is critical.”
The Mavericks were on the board first as they scored two runs in the first inning to jump ahead 2-0. A RBI triple from LF Christian Rush who later scored on a wild pitch to give the Mavs their lead. They added to it in the top of the fifth, scoring three runs. Shortstop Nate Ewing scored on a wild pitch before first basemen Tory Nelson drove in two runs with a two RBI double to out the Mavericks ahead 5-0.
Nelson had tw0 hits, three RBI’s in the win and played strong defence at first base including a couple scooped balls out of the dirt to register outs. The Medicine Hat product said he and the whole team was ready to go from first pitch.
“All the guys were up, the playoff atmosphere is different and anything can happen with playoff baseball,” Nelson said. “It’s good to get this win under our belts and hopefully we can keep up what we’ve got going on.”
Mavericks starter Garrett Nicholson held Regina at bay through four innings with four strikeouts before the Red Sox’s bats awoke in the fifth. Regina scored four runs in the fifth to end Nicholson’s night at 4.2 innings with four strikeouts as Gerrit Erickson took over on the mound and got out of the inning.
Erickson, getting the final out of the fifth frame, was credited with the win in his 4.1 innings pithed with two strikeouts. He hopes the Mavericks can keep their momentum up from their win in the rest of the series.
“Garrett pitched an awesome game and I came in with runners in scoring position,” Erickson said. “My job was just helping him out and get that last because those were his runs out there. I got the ground ball that I needed to get and then we put up a huge spot because our bats did really good that one inning and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there.”
The Mavericks put up a six spot on Regina in the seventh inning to jump ahead 11-4. Nelson hit a RBI single and Rush had a two RBI single to start the inning off before the Mavericks capitalized on three straight bases loaded walks for their bloated lead.
Regina added solo runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but could not mount a full comeback as the Mavericks held on for the 11-7 win and the series lead. Jeske said he is excited to be a part of playoff baseball returning to Medicine Hat as they look to close out the series Tuesday.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back home in front of the Medicine Hat fans,” Jeske said. “It’s been a couple of years and I think back to opening day and it was an incredible day and now it’s playoff baseball back in Medicine Hat. Not only that, we’re up in the series 1-0 and have a chance to clinch at home, in front of our home crowd.”
“But at the end of the day, it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be a grind, and we’re going to have to come back ready because we know Regina is going to come at us with everything they have.”
Game 2 gets underway at Atheltic Park at 7:05 p.m.