Wednesday June 28, 2017
Greg Cullen does it again in walk-off fashion
By Dustin Saracini
Okotoks, AB - The rain cleared and the skies compromised long enough for the (13-8) Okotoks Dawgs and (6-15) Brooks Bombers to play a 10-inning thriller.
With his Niagara University teammate, Joel Brophy, on second in the bottom of the 10th, Greg Cullen notched his sixth hit in the last two games, lacing a curveball to right field. The throw from the outfield came a split second late as Brophy slid head-first, scoring the game-winning run, allowing the Dawgs to pour out of the dugout to meet Cullen 90 feet down the line. A 5-4 victory is what the scoreboard read.
“It’s a great feeling,” Cullen said moments after the win.
“Knowing that that hit propels the team, not just this game but next game, it means a lot, it really means a lot.”
Defensively, it was Jack Rupe (UCSD) with a quality outing. After allowing two runs to cross the plate in the top of the first, Rupe shut the Bombers down for six straight innings, at one point retiring 12 straight batters. The most impressive note of his outing was his control, issuing just one free pass while striking out seven.
Okotoks bounced back in the bottom half of the first, plating a run of their own. Eddie Sanchez (Central Arkansas) continued to swing a hot bat with a one-out single, extending his hitting streak to five while collecting 10 hits over that span. Matt Lloyd (Indiana University) followed suit with a single through the 3-4 gap, giving Kody Funderburk (Dallas Baptist) a chance with runners in scoring position. Much like a night ago, Funderburk worked a patient, seven-pitch at-bat before flaring a single out to left field, scoring Sanchez and cutting the deficit to one.
The score was deadlocked at 2-1 until the top of the eighth, where the Bombers stretched their lead to two on a wild pitch.
In a carbon copy of the Dawgs’ first cracks at the plate, Sanchez and Lloyd popped back-to-back singles in the eighth -- the former collecting three straight multi-hit games while the latter stretched his streak to two -- before Funderburk ripped a ground ball through the middle to diminish the Bombers lead to just one. Zach Hanna (University of Alabama) then stepped in following a pitching change, lining a first-pitch single to shallow left field to knot the game at three.
Brooks answered in the top of the ninth, however, with a one-out double down the left field line, narrowly beating the outstretched glove of Sanchez at third base. The one-run lead wasn’t enough to overcome the resilient Dawgs in the bottom of the ninth, though.
Sanchez put his stamp on the tilt following a bunt single from Cullen with one of his own. His third hit was enough to move his average from .390 to .422 in one game. With one-out, Hanna stepped to the plate and cracked a towering sac-fly to left field to tie the contest at 4-4, giving the Dawgs another chance at walking away with the victory.
On deck is a pair of games against the Lethbridge Bulls in a home-and-home series, beginning tomorrow, June 29. Okotoks currently sits a game back of them for first place in the West division.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Eddie Sanchez: 3-4, 2 R, .422 AVG
Matt Lloyd: 2-4, R, .305 AVG
Kody Funderburk (R): 2-4, 2 RBI, .303 AVG
WP: Ethan Fox (1-0) LP: Cody Vega (0-2)