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Jets return to southern Alberta for matchup against the Okotoks Dawgs

Posted on April 18, 2024 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times

After a long trip to Las Vegas, the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets returned to southern Alberta and were back on the road to Okotoks. On Saturday and Sunday, the Jets took on the Dawgs for a pair of doubleheaders as their spring continued.

In the first game of the weekend, the Jets stumped out of the gate with a 5-1 loss. The second game was closer, but the Jets still walked away with a 3-2 loss. In terms of pitching, the Jets saw Brett Getz go four innings with an earned run, Jacob Burgess pitched two innings with two earned, and Jimmy Boulanger went six IP with a single earned run given up. 

“We lost both games, 5-1 and 3-2,” stated Les McTavish, head coach of the Jets. “Both pitchers we faced are Team Canada players. Both have signed at Division I schools and are talented and I thought we hung right in there. We got beat by a better arm in Game 1. He had a no-hitter until two outs in the 7th and then we found a way to scrap away in a run. In Game 2 it was a really good ball game. We kind of gifted him a couple of runs early and then we hit a two-run homer in the 7th to put it to 3-2. We had a runner on., we hit a ball hard in the left centre and they kind of played deep on us and caught it. There was nothing to be ashamed of there.”

Despite two losses to open up the weekend, the Jets would come back to the field on Sunday with plenty of firepower. In a 10-2 win, the Jets saw their bats heat up while their pitching remained rock solid. Aaron Fuzesy had three hits and three RBI, Karsen Haney collected two hits, Luke Wheatley had a three-run home run, while Stevyn Andrachick, Ben Simmons, Langdyn Cummins, and Eric Reiling all chipped in with one hit each. Sheamus Ryan took the win on the mound and Rory MacDonald pitched three innings and collected the save. 

In the final game of the weekend, the Jets saw another loss at the hands of the Dawgs, this time 4-2. Patrick MacInnis threw four innings with a single earned run which ended in a no-decision. Andrachick, Fuzesy, Haney (double), and Thomson all had one hit.

“Then we came out on Sunday and played really well. We swung the bats well and we were a little more patient at the plate. Again we faced some really good arms and out-hit them and beat them 10-2. The final game was 2-2 in the 5th inning. We walked a guy and he ended up coming around to score and that happened twice. Overall I thought we outscored them on the weekend, we out hit them on the weekend, but it was really well-played games. They’re a good program, they have as good a pitching staff as anybody in the country. We were able to hang right there with them,” continued McTavish.“Overall it was a good weekend. Okotoks is a really talented group this year, they’re quite a bit older than we are and they certainly have a ton of talent.”

In terms of gameplan at the plate each game, McTavish explained it’s different each time. And when you’re facing high-quality arms, sometimes things take time before hits start to fall.

“It depends on who you’re facing. If you’re the first guy we face, Michael Yusypchuk, he throws a ton of strikes so you can’t be patient with him. He was struggling a little bit with his fastball command. I coached him a couple of years ago with Team Canada and he never threw a cutter. He started throwing a cutter in the middle of the game. We didn’t strike out much, it just kind of got it off the barrel. Righties, it would move to the end of the bat — lefties, it would get in on their hands a little bit. It just created a ton of soft contact,” continued McTavish. “His pitch count was extremely low. He was like 60 pitches or 58 pitches through six innings. But you don’t want to be patient on a guy like that because before you know it, you’re 0-2 every at-bat.”

Other arms proved to be challenging as well and McTavish explained every arm they saw provided something different for the VAB hitters.

“In the second game, we were a little bit more patient —he was a different type of pitcher. The ball kind of rode up in the strikes and it kind of had some vertical ride to it. We were a little bit more patient and I thought we had some better at-bats. Then we had Aaron Fuzesy hit a two-run shot off the foul pole, that gave us some life,” said McTavish. “When you go through games like that, we face four really good starting pitchers for their team. Each day, you come up with a game plan before the game starts. But then, they are high school kids so you have to be willing to change and adapt and evolve depending on how they’re throwing that day. It’s not like a big leaguer where it’s pretty much the same guy every time out.”

Next up for the Jets is a Sunday doubleheader at home — weather-dependent. First pitch is set for noon and the Jets are excited to get back home.

“I think some home cooking is what we need to be honest —we’re excited — hopefully, the weather can hold off. We’ve had a couple of players from the Diamond Baseball Academy in Quebec, they’re coming in on Sunday and they’re actually staying for a week. They’re going to play in the PBA tournament next weekend,” continued McTavish. “Hopefully, the weather can hold and we can play a couple of games at home on Sunday against Diamond. Then, the PBA (Prairie Baseball Academy) tournament is next week because there are so many teams in the tournament. We’re actually playing at home Thursday at 7 p.m. and then Friday at noon and Friday at 6 p.m even though it’s an away tournament, we get a little cooking there too, which is nice.”

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