Dawgs score early in first win of Saskatchewan trip

 Right-hander Anthony Balderas allowed three earned runs in six innings on Tuesday to lead the Okotoks Dawgs to a 6-4 win. Photo Credit: Amanda Fewer

Right-hander Anthony Balderas allowed three earned runs in six innings on Tuesday to lead the Okotoks Dawgs to a 6-4 win. Photo Credit: Amanda Fewer

Tuesday July 18, 2017

Dawgs score early in first win of Saskatchewan trip

By Dustin Saracini

Yorkton, SK - Just under 1,000 kilometres east of Okotoks, the (25-11) Dawgs found the win column in their first of six games in Saskatchewan, taking a 6-4 victory over the (10-27) Yorkton Cardinals.

Anthony Balderas (Lewis-Clark) fired six innings of four-run baseball -- three of them earned -- tallying his team-leading fourth win of the season. The right-handed senior fanned six without any command issues en route to his third quality outing in a row.

“I tried to do my best to show up today and give the team my best effort,” he said following the win.

“It wasn’t the outlook that I wanted, but hey, we got the win and that’s the most important thing of the day.”

The top of the lineup in Greg Cullen (Niagara University), Eddie Sanchez (Central Arkansas), Zach Hanna (University of Missouri) and Kody Funderburk (Dallas Baptist) did the majority of the damage tonight, combining for six of the Dawgs’ eight hits and were responsible for five of six RBI. Okotoks scored in bunches in the early going, plating three in the first and second to power their way to a 4 1/2 game lead over the second-place Lethbridge Bulls.

It didn’t take long for the Dawgs to get on the board in this one, as Cullen led things off with a solo shot for his second blast of the campaign. Working himself into a hitter’s count, the Niagara University product turned on an inside fastball, curling a shot around the right field foul pole. Behind him, the offence kept rolling. A trio of singles from Sanchez, Hanna and Funderburk gave the Dawgs an early 3-0 advantage before Balderas took to the mound.

“It’s always nice to go in with a little bit of comfort,” he said of his team's ability to jump out in front.

“You aren’t thinking about anything other than getting the guys out -- you have the lead, I’m just up there doing what I can do for the team and getting us back into the dugout.”

After the Cardinals tacked on one in the bottom-half of the first, the red and white reclaimed their lead in a tremendous way. Okotoks quickly registered their seventh hit and sixth run of the game in the second frame, highlighted by Funderburk’s WMBL-leading 12th home run of 2017. It was a 6-1 contest through two.

Yorkton cut the lead to four off a solo blast before a two-run fourth inning clawed their way back within two. That was as close as they would get, as the Dawgs bullpen proved to be too much for the Cardinals bats down the stretch.

Omar Celaya (Nyack College) extended his scoreless streak to 8 2/3 innings, shutting down the red birds in the seventh while Funderburk exchanged a bat for a glove in the eighth, stretching his own scoreless streak to six in his sixth appearance.

Tyler Burdett (Dixie State) closed the game out in the ninth for his WMBL-leading 10th save of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Greg Cullen (R): 2-4, 2 R, HR, .349

Kody Funderburk (R): 2-5, R, 3 RBI, HR, .336

OF RECORD:

WP: Anthony Balderas (4-1) LP: Tyson Black (0-4) SV: Tyler Burdett (10)