By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Down a run in the bottom of seventh the Okotoks Dawgs looked around the bench.
Here they were in the final of the Butler University 18U National Wood Bat championship in Indianapolis and they were a run short.
In the other dugout the Rawlings Elite Club was probably singing Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero ...” as Gavin Logan (Oyen, Alta.), batting sixth in the order, left the on-deck circle.
Jordan Lussier (Winnipeg, Man.) bunted Logan over to second and No. 8 hitter Alejandro Cazorla (White Rock, BC) tripled to tie the game and put the shoe on the other hit. It wasn’t long after that the Rawlings pitcher threw one to the screen Cazorla scored on the wild pitch.
Ethan Francis (Summerside, PEI) picked up the win as the Dawgs edged Rawlings Elite 7-6 in the final of the prestigious 28-team tournament. Francis allowed one run in two innings, striking out four and walking one.
Jackson Fraser (Swift Currrent, Sask.) threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen. Logan started the game and surrendered three runs on four hits over four innings, striking out four.
The Dawgs tallied 11 hits on the day. Noah Geekie (Strathclair, Man.), Brendan Logan (Oyen, Alta.) and Lussier each racked up multiple hits with Lussier collecting three hits in four at bats. The Dawgs also stole seven bases with Ayden Makarus (Airdrie, Alta.) stealing a pair.
The Dawgs were coached by Val Helldobler, bench coach Tyler Hollick (Calgary, Alta.), the former San Francisco Giants farmhand and pitching coach Jeff Duda (White Rock, BC).
Making the victory all the more impressive is that the Dawgs were without Cesar Valero (Calgary Alta.), who is recovering from a shoulder injury suffered at Tropicana field; LaRon Smith (Spruce Grove, Aalta.) had signed with the Minnesota Twins; Micah McDowell (Haliifax, NS), who has a torn thumb, Jackson Seitz (Swift Currentt, Sask.) who is out with a hamstring and Tyler Mcwillie (Watrous, Sask.) who had a family committment.
No-no to open: Lussier and Fraser combined on a no-hit 8-0 win over Baseball Academics Midwest- Hart. Lussier pitched three innings for the win, striking out seven and walking none, while Fraser also threw two innings in relief, striking out two.
The Dawgs scored six runs in the second thanks to singles by Geekie, Zdunich and Cazorla, an error on a ball put in play by Makarus, and a double by Ricardo Sanchez. The Dawgs collected nine hits with Zdunich and Geekie collecting two hits apiece.
A blemish against the Eagles: The Indiana Eagles 18U beat the Okotoks 4-1. Bryce Libke (Saskatoon, Ssask.) was charged with the loss allowing three hits and two runs over 4 1/3 innings while striking out four. Ryan Olchoway (Saskatoon, Sask.) pitched 2 2/3 and innings, giving up two runs while striking out five.
Tristan Peters (Winkler, Man.) and Zdunich each had two hits.
Graham Brunner (Sherwood Park, Alta.) was part of a combined shut out win over the Cincinnati Royals.
Another white wash: Graham Brunner (Sherwood Park, Alta.), Michael Johnson (Calgary, Alta.), Branden Woods (Red Deer, Alta.) and Ethan Francis combined on a 14-0 shut out over the Cincinnati Royals. Brunner pitched 1 1/3 innings, striking out a pair, Johnson struck out both men he faced. Woods pitched a scoreless inning allowing one hit and Francis put up another zero allowing two hits.
Geekie was 2-for-2, knocked in a run and stole two bases. Gavin Logan had a base hit and knocked in three runs, while Jayden Wakeham (Victoria, BC) and Cazorla each drove in a pair of runs. Makarus tripled in a run.
Yet more zeros: Dawgs pitching thumped the Washington Baseball Club 9-0 in the quarter final as Matt Wilkinson (White Rock, BC) and Woods combined on the shut out. Wilkinson pitched four innings, allowing two hits, while striking out five. Woods threw one inning to finish the game.
Six runs in the first was thanks to Makarus, Brendan Logan, Gavin Logan, and Wakeham, who all drove in runs. Geekie, Brendan Logan, Cazorla, Dryden Howse, Peters, Gavin Logan, and Wakeham each had one hit.
One to go: The Dawgs scored a one-run win to get to the final as well, edging Blueprint Baseball 17U 5-4.
Trailing 3-2 in the top of the seventh, Okotoks put up a three spot. It all started when Cazorla, Zdunich and Sanchez walked to load the bases. Geekie walked to score the tying run. Peters then doubled down the right field line for the 5-3 lead.
Brunner started the game and ultimately earned a no-decision. Brunner pitched four innings allowing three earned runs on four hits while recording four strike outs. Johnson struck out the final two outs of the fifth and retired the first out of the sixth. Geekie earned the win, pitching 1 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and one run while striking out four and walking one. Lussier recorded the last two outs to earn the save. Peters doubled, singled and knocked in a pair of runs, while Zdunich had a pair of hits. Geekie and Lussier each doubled.