Tribe ready for final week of regular season
The Swift Current Indians may have ended the week with a threegame losing streak, but the preceding eight-game winning streak left the team in a good spot heading into the final week of the Western Major Baseball League regular season.
Indians catcher Taylor Steen got the tag down on Moose Jaw’s Derek Cornell in the third inning during a 2-0 win after a perfect throw from left fielder Josh Johnson.
The Tribe finished the weekend with a 23-16 record with a 3.5-game lead over Moose Jaw in the Central Division with the third best record in the 11team WMBL.
“Shoot we have played something like 32 games in 33 days or vice versa,” said coach Joe Carnahan. “We have a bunch of guys banged up and stuff and during that stretch we have had an outstanding record, probably about a .700 winning percentage or high .600’s. These guys are battling and that is what you look for as a coach is guys competing every day and that’s what these guys are doing and it is nice to have some days off here,” he said as the team was enjoying a rare stretch of three days off.
“Well we have to get a couple of guys healthy here, couple of position guys and a couple of pitchers healthy. Now with these three days off we will be able to get everything set up and start doing some things that we are going to be doing in the playoffs as far as the back end of our game,” explained Carnahan.
The Indians will play six games over the final seven days with a number of playoff scenarios still possible.
“Winning is always important, that’s why we play the game is to win. But at the same sense, we have to get that playoff spot secured but we are not going to sacrifice anybody’s health before the playoffs just to move up a spot or two,” cautioned Carnahan.
The Indians lead the WMBL with a .297 team batting average and also lead the league with 88 stolen bases. Outfielder Josh Johnson currently leads the league with a .392 average and 27 stolen bases in 33 games.
“We have a pretty good line-up. We have a lot of speed and we have some guys that can hit the ball in the gaps and out of the park. We have a lot of pretty good offensive players,” said Carnahan.
The pitching staff is now fourth in the league with a 4.25 earned run average and a .257 opponents batting average.
“Pitching-wise we have had a lot of moving parts throughout the season. It is nice now to finally have a couple days off to get guys set up in the roles upcoming in the rest of the season and in the playoffs.”
Wednesday, an innocent looking bloop single off the bat of Matt Spillman turned out to be the difference as the Indians extended their winning streak to seven games.
Spillman cashed in the only two runs in the game with a second-inning single that fell between the centre fielder, second baseman, and shortstop in a 20 win over the visiting Moose Jaw Miller Express.
Fernando Pena took care of business on the mound with 8 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing only six hits and two walks while striking out three to earn the win. Zach Manley got the final two outs to pick up the save.
Left fielder Josh Johnson had the play of the game when he gunned down Derek Cornell at home plate to end the top of the third inning.
The Indians lost Thursday in Weyburn but not before their winning streak reached eight games during a double header against the Beavers.
Sean Callegari tossed a seven-inning shutout to lead the Tribe to a 6-0 win in the opener. Callegari scattered five hits over seven innings while striking out seven as he threw 59 of his 76 pitches for strikes to lower his earned run average to 2.64 while improving to 5-0 on the season.
The Indians knocked out 13 hits and scored in three of the first four innings to take control of the game. Darren Kolk led the way with three hits, one run scored, and a run batted in out of the two-hole.
Catcher Taylor Steen was also three-for-four with a RBI. Eric Sams had two hits and two RBI as well. Leadoff man Josh Johnson failed to get a hit but came around to score two runs and stole two bases, his league leading 26th and 27th of the season.
The Indians lost the second game 10-6 after the hosts rebounded with 13 hits. Starter Peter Irvin was shelled for five hits, three walks, and six runs over 1.1 innings in the loss.
The Indians hung around to trail 6-5 after two innings but the Beavers added three more runs in the third inning and another in the fourth on their way to the win. Hunter Owen led the offense with a triple and a single, knocking home three runs and scoring once. Liam Goodall also tripled and singled and came around to score two runs. Eros Modena singled, scored, had an RBI, and stole two bases.
The Indians lost their second consecutive game Friday, allowing two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to fall 4-3 to the host Regina Red Sox in a meeting between two of the WMBL’s top teams.
Regina scored twice off of Manley in the ninth, including a two-out, walk-off single from Rob Hogenkamp to score Geordie McDougall.
Juan Pizarro made a strong start for the Tribe, allowing only three hits, three walks, and two runs, one that was earned, over six innings.
Modena and Owen had runs batted in, while Johnson, Spillman, and Kolk came around to score.