Okotoks Dawgs win Best of the West title
Dawgs win Best of the West Showcase
By Jeff Duda
The Okotoks Dawgs 18U Midgets captured the championship of the prestigious Best of the West Showcase in Kamloops, BC on the weekend by defeating the Vauxhall Academy Jets 14-2 in the championship game.
The Best of the West brings together the top high school aged players and programs in Western Canada and is regularly attended by numerous MLB scouts and coaches from Canada’s Junior National Team.
After splitting its first two round robin games, defeating the Abbotsford Cardinals 3-2 and dropping a close game to the Victoria Mariners, the Dawgs went on a roll beating the Best League Experience Selects 10-4, the Langley Blaze 11-2 before downing Vauxhall in the final.
The semi-final game with Langley, pitting two of the top youth programs in the country, went the Dawgs way. Offensively the Dawgs were led by Kye Seitz who registered a double, a grand slam and six RBIs. Micah McDowell and Jayden Wakeham chipped in two hits each and Tucker Zdunich tripled to knock in three runs. Ricky Sanchez with a double and Tristan Peters with three walks, scored two runs apiece. On the mound, it was all Brendan Logan as he earned the win allowing just two runs with five strikeouts and didn't walk a batter.
In the championship game, the Dawgs bats stayed hot as the club jumped on Vauxhall for three runs in the first inning and ran out to a 7-0 led after four innings. The Dawgs continued to pound on Vauxhall pitching scoring two more in the sixth inning and five runs in the seventh to finish off a convincing 14-2 win in the championship game.
On the mound, the Dawgs lefty tandem of Graham Brunner and outstanding rookie, Matt Wilkinson, were lights out. Brunner pitched five innings allowing the two runs and Wilkinson struck out four in two scoreless innings of relief. The pitchers were assisted by outstanding defence which was a hallmark of the Dawgs performance throughout the tournament.
Offensively, it was another team effort as the Dawgs pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of three Vauxhall errors. Leading the way was Tucker Zdunich, who had an outstanding tournament, with a home run, two runs and two RBIs. Rookie infielder, Ricky Sanchez stayed hot with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs. Underclassman, Micah McDowell also chipped in with two hits, two runs and two RBIs. LaRon Smith and Caesar Valero, both hot off their southern swing with the Junior National Team, each had doubles, with Smith knocking in four runs on the day. Tristan Peters, Gavin Logan, and Jack Marlin also joined the hit parade and tallied two RBIs.
The Dawgs Midget Black are coached by Jeff Duda (LC State, ID, Quebec Capitales), Val Helldobler (Tiffin College, OH) and Tyler Hollick (Chandler Gilbert, AZ, San Francisco Giants org.). The club returns home to the friendly confines of Seaman Stadium and the Duvernay Fieldhouse in Okotoks, Alta., before heading down south for a four-game series against the Tetons of Williston State College in North Dakota.
Follow the Dawgs on their new website at www.dawgsacademy.ca.