08/01/2014 12:04 AM -
Dawgs-Bulls set to renew acquaintances in playoffs
Thursday July 31, 2014
by Neil Hilts
The Lethbridge Bulls and Okotoks Dawgs seem to meet in the playoffs almost every season – it’s a major factor why these teams share such a great rivalry. Once again, these teams will face off, but it’s Lethbridge that holds the higher seed, possibly making Okotoks the underdawgs.
Hostilities will be renewed starting this Friday in Lethbridge, as the regular season champion Lethbridge Bulls host the Okotoks Dawgs in round one of the WMBL Playoffs. The Bulls finished the year (31-15) while Okotoks posted a (24-22) record.
Last season, the Dawgs and Bulls met up in the first round, and it was a competitive, fiery series. In game one, Lethbridge won 19-3, and is the series-deciding game five, Okotoks prevailed 14-2. Okotoks would end up winning 3-2 and advancing to the Western Division finals.
In 2011, Okotoks beat Lethbridge 3-1 the first round, and in 2010, the Dawgs swept Lethbridge 3-0 in the first round. The two teams have never met in the playoffs when Lethbridge has been the higher seed and had home field advantage, so it's interesting to see how this will turn out. Okotoks is 13-3 at home in their last 16, while Lethbridge went 18-5 at home all year. Clearly, both teams prefer the friendly confines of their fields.
This season, the Dawgs and Bulls have had a pretty close season series and featured lots of nail-biting action. Both teams boast two come-from-behind, walk-off wins and the season series concluded at four wins apiece.
Dylan Dyson cleaned up against the Dawgs this season, as he racked up 10 RBIs while going 8-32. Brandon Bufton was 12-26 (.461) with seven RBIs while Trevor Sakatch hit 5-9 in his limited time.
The Bulls had numerous award winners and accolades, starting with their head coach, Ryan MacDonald, who was named WMBL Coach of the Year. Pitcher Scott Cone was a first-team all star, along with infielder Taylor Hutchison and designated hitter Dylan Dyson. Infielders Mitch Dornblut and Evan Comeau were named to Second Team All-Stars, as was outfielder Brandon Bufton and pitcher Alex Regan.
Scott Hoyt was the Dawgs’ leading hitter against the Bulls, going .413 with seven RBIs. Ellis Kelly hit .318 and Connor Crane hit .345.
The Dawgs game one starter is Tyrell King, who picked up a win in his only time facing Lethbridge. King went six innings, struck out six and allowed two runs (one earned). King ranks number three in the WMBL in ERA with a 2.11 mark, and was named the Canadian Rookie of the Year WMBL Second Team All-Star. Chris Sievers will start game two. He is third in the league in strikeouts and is 3-3 with a 3.23 ERA.
Likely starting game one for the Bulls will be Scott Cone, the team ace who is second in the WMBL in ERA. In his lone appearance against the Dawgs, he gave up four runs (three earned) and was forced out of the game after the fifth inning. Former J Dawg Alex Regan is the likely starter for Saturday’s road game. This season against the Dawgs, Regan has thrown 12.1 innings while allowing four runs and 11 hits.
The regular season records might suggest this is a David vs. Goliath battle, but past games this season show the Dawgs can compete and shouldn‘t be underestimated. If you’re a bettor, it might pay off to put some money on the underdawgs.
Here is the series breakdown:
Friday, August 1st, 7:05 P.M.: Okotoks @ Lethbridge