By Cole Parkinson
For Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Last week saw the W.R. Myers Rebels boys’ SV baseball team play in a pair of games. First up was a match-up against Eagle Butte as the team had their Fan Appreciation Night on May 3.
Both teams came out swinging the bats and they put up an explosive offensive game that eventually saw the home team come out on top 22-18. The Rebels collected 21 hits and the entire offence was firing on all cylinders as each of the starting nine would add a hit. Tanner Bullock went 4-6, Ashton Lukacs added three hits and four RBI, while Tage Jensen also drove in four along with two hits, Evan Koizumi was 3-4 with three RBI and Jaxon Maksymytz went 2-4 with three RBI. Hayden Span was 3-5 at the dish with a pair of RBI and Bryden O’Connor collected two hits and drove in one.
“Our offence really came to play. It was great to see contributions up and down the lineup,” said coach Garrett Simmons.
On the mound, the Rebels gave up their fair share of runs. Jensen collected the win and the pitcher struck out seven in four and a third innings while Maksymytz earned the save, as he punched out four in two and two-thirds innings of work.
“Our pitchers did a great job of keeping us in the game. We limited the walks, which has been a sore spot for far this year, and made Eagle Butte earn its opportunities,” added Simmons.
After the offensive explosion in game one, the team was hoping to continue to swing the bats well, but also tighten up defensively and on the mound. Hitting the road, the Rebels were able to secure a 7-6 win against Maple Creek on May 4.
The Rebels were led by Jensen, Bullock, Lukacs, O’Connor, and Heath Hansen who all had a pair of hits. Bullock drove in two, while Jensen, Koizumi and Maksymytz had one RBI each. The pitching also saw a stronger effort as the team was able to limit the opposition to only six runs. Bullock was masterful on the mound as he gave the Rebels six innings while punching out 16 Maple Creek hitters. Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Myers took a 7-5 lead into the final frame. Maple Creek would cut the lead to one and loaded the bases with no outs. Bullock then came up with the key defensive play of the inning after shifting to third base. Bullock fielded a ground ball and fired to home, while Hansen completed the force out for the first out. Lukas then struck out the next two batters to preserve the win and collect the save.
“The last strikeout was on a curveball, which got away from our catcher. Hansen had to make a great recovery and tag the oncoming baserunner at the last minute, to seal the win. To say it was a heart-stopping finish would be a gigantic understatement,” added Simmons.
“We had two innings end on line drives where Maple Creek was able to double up our base runners. We hit the ball extremely hard on those two occasions and both times, it just happened to be hit right at a Maple Creek infielder.”
Moving forward, the Rebels are hoping to tighten the reins on their defence. While they were able to collect the win in Maple Creek, untimely errors almost turned the game on its head.
“Defensively, we also made a few key mistakes that cost us runs. Really, the game should not have come down to a single run. We have to find ways to get outs a little more consistently on the defensive side of things,” explained Simmons.
All-in-all, the coaches were incredibly happy with how the team was able to push across two wins.
“It was a great pair of wins for the kids. We played two teams in our own tier and proved we could more than hold our own,” said Simmons.
Now the team’s focus shifts to one game coming tonight at 5:30 p.m. against the Medicine Hat Hawks. Likewise, the JV team is preparing for a Saturday afternoon game against Brooks, with first pitch at 2 p.m.
“These will be two more great opportunities for our starters and our JV players to really show us something,” continued Simmons. “Medicine Hat has a strong program, and that will be a great game for us. We beat Brooks 5-4 in the last JV game, so I’d expect another tight game. These JV games have been extremely valuable in getting some guys opportunities to pitch, face some live pitching and play in key defensive situations.”