Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hawks steal victory from Cobras

2015 Pincher Creek High School Hawks
Chris Davis

Pincher Creek's Hawks High School baseball team rebounded from a 1-8 deficit to ultimately defeat Willow Creek's Cobras 11-9 at Sproule Field on Tuesday evening, May 19.  The winning run came for the Hawks when Matthew Duncan stole home, and successfully stolen bases in the latter half of the game played a big part in the Hawks' victory.

The weather was close to perfect for this game, not too cold, not too hot, not too much wind.  A few less blackflies might have been nice.  I counted nine Hawks ready to play against an almost doubly deep 17 player Cobras bench. Pitching for the Hawks were Mitchell Zoratti (who threw 13 first-pitch strikes in this game) and Matthew Duncan. Pitching for the Cobras were Brady Broderson (who threw 8 strikeouts in this game) and Ethan Watt.

Hawks starting pitcher Mitchell Zoratti
Matthew Duncan also put the Hawks on the scoreboard in the the second inning by stealing home, a smart play that gave them a 1-0 lead for a short while.  Two runs for the Cobras at the top of the third were the beginning of a winning streak for the tight Willow Creek team.  Nothing for the Hawks in the bottom of the third.  The Cobras loaded the bases during their at-bat in the 4th, which resulted in one walk-in and three more batted in. 1-7 Cobras.  A beautiful bunt sent one more Cobra home, and it was 1-8.  Brandon Giesbrecht made it home for the Hawks in the bottom of the 4th to make it 2-8 Cobras going into the 5th inning.  Another run for the Cobras early in the 5th put them ahead 2-9, and it was starting to look like game over for the Hawks.

Cobras starting pitcher Brady Broderson
Then came the bottom of the 5th.

Matt Duncan (currently holding down the #3 spot for Quality At Bats in the NorthWest Division SAHSBL) knocked in Deloy Mackenzie, one of the Hawks' best base stealers. Then Mitchell Zoratti stole home. Then Duncan made it home. Just like that it was 5-9, the Hawks still behind but energized by a good at-bat. Hawks pitcher Matt Duncan knocked the Cobras' batters down in short order (with a little help from his friends) at the top of the 6th. Then it was the Hawks' turn to load the bases in the bottom of the 6th. Tyson Goodreau batted in two to bring the score to 7-9. Another steal home, 8-9. Then Goodreau stole home. 9-9. Then Duncan stole home. 10-9, and the Hawks were in the lead. To ice the cake, Beau Walter bunted Brandon Giesbrecht to third and then Giesbrecht took advantage of an overthrow to steal home. 11-9. Three more quick outs for Duncan and co. at the top of the 7th and final inning, and it was all over, losing streak ended on home field for the justifiably jubilant Hawks.

Simpsons skies over Sproule Field
Of course, when baseball gives it often also takes away.  The Hawks finished their day with a mandatory lap around the field due to a lapse of manners during their last outing.  Discipline brings perspective.

After the game I asked Hawks coach Bryan Burns what made the difference for the Hawks in this game, after several unsuccessful outings.  "Positive attitudes today," he said.  "We were in a bit of a foul mood foul mood our last game and I told them today 'Let's just have fun', and that seemed to work. Even when they were down 9-2 they didn't quit. The dugout was nice and positive, so I would say that was all the difference, right there."

Coach Burns also wanted to single out the performance of Jaeger Hann in this game.  "Jaeger showed a lot of heart when he took that guy sliding into him at third there, and toughed it out. Started our beginning off with a nice hit, got on base, made his way around, and showed a lot of heart."  The plays he's talking about are excerpted in the following video, and the first play, where Hann and a Cobra battle for third, despite being an unsuccessful out attempt, was really the moment when it felt like the game was turning around for the Hawks.  Hann took a thump, walked it off, and returned to his position in time for the next pitch.

Hats off to every member of the Hawks roster, they each showed up to play (and in one case to support), and camaraderie was much improved, which in turn resulted in much improved teamwork. They stole this one fair and square.

The Pincher Creek Hawks' last scheduled game on May 14 vs the County Central Hawks had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.  Their next scheduled game is again at home Tuesday May 19  starting at 5:30 vs Claresholm's Cobras.

The Hawks are currently at 3 wins, 4 losses, and 1 tie for the season, with three more regular season games to go (assuming the cancelled game against the County Central Hawks is rescheduled) before Provincials at the end of May.

The Hawks are currently in 6th place out of 9 teams in the NorthWest Division of the Southern Alberta High School Baseball League (SAHSBL), just behind the Cardston Cougars.  The Highwood Mustangs are holding down the #1 spot with an 8-0-0 record to date, followed by Fort Macleod's F.P Walshe Flyers (6-3-0).  The Pincher Hawks will be hosting the Flyers at Sproule Field on Thursday May 21.

Fort Macleod Royals

Members of the Fort Macleod Royals organization were on hand to watch the above game.  On Saturday May 30, they will be hosting skills camp here in Pincher Creek.  Note that event has been moved to Juan Teran Park because 43 players have registered, more than expected, and Lion's Park isn't big enough to contain that much baseball.  The next day, Sunday May 31, the Royals will be playing a double-header (7 inning games) against the Cranbrook Bandits at Pincher Creek's Sproule Field, starting at 1:00 pm.  

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