Best in the West: Mavericks win third league championship in franchise history

By Mitch Bach
August 16, 2018 - 10:59pm Updated: August 17, 2018 - 7:20pm

 

MEDICINE HAT, AB — He wasn’t nervous.

Nor was he questioning his recruitment over the off-season.

Greg Morrison was confidently optimistic of in his team’s chances ahead of a championship-deciding Game 5 against the Regina Red Sox.

Sure enough, in celebrating his 10-year anniversary as the Medicine Hat Mavericks owner, Morrison is a WMBL Champion once again.

The Mavericks are the rightful owners of the Harry Hallis Memorial Trophy after a historic 8-2 victory over the Regina Red Sox in front of a record-setting crowd at Athletic Park.

It’s the Mavs third league title in franchise history, complimenting their championship rings from 2003 and 2014.

Carson Johnson batted in a league-leading 17 RBI to earn playoff MVP honours. David Salgueiro caught the series-ending final out; a pop-fly to centre field off Jahshua Jones, sending the Mavericks dugout into a mad frenzy of celebration.

Medicine Hat goes down as permanent WMBL champions, with the league is changing its name to the Western Canadian Baseball League in 2019.

With hundreds of fans lining the flood berm opposite the back wall, and another 200-plus perched down the first-base line, the home team put up a relentless performance all over the field.

Jaymon Cervantes pitched seven championship-worthy innings, allowing just five hits, one run, and fanning six batters.

It was an ideal rebound performance for the Tuscon, Arizona product. Cervantes also started Game 5 of the West Division Final against Edmonton, but lasted just two innings after walking five.

With Peyton Burks starting the game for Regina, the league’s best team struck early and often. It started in the second inning — a deep shot to left field by returning Maverick Louie Canjura  brought in Sal Rodriguez.

Things escalated to another degree after holding Regina off the scoreboard for a third straight inning. After Zack Gray batted in another tally in the bottom half, Burks was replaced by Tyler Bernhardt.

It took four pitches for Rodriguez to hand Bernhardt his first earned run of the evening, bringing home Zack Gray. Rodriguez and Canjura scored a pair more off wild-pitches to round out a four-spot for Medicine Hat.

Colton Wright extended the Mavericks lead to 6-0 to lead off the fourth, clocking his playoff-leading fourth homer through centre field. Jordan Dray followed up in the fifth with an RBI double to make it 7-1.

Matt DeNeau took a high shot over the scoreboard in the top half of that same frame, breaking the Red Sox goose-egg.

Cervantes avenged the solo-shot in the sixth, striking out DeNeau with two on to end the inning. His sixth strikeout of the contest came with two out in the seventh.

The home crowd rose to it’s feet following the seventh inning stretch when local product Nolan Rattai ran to an 8-1 lead. Rattai went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs while Jordan Drey’s 2-for-3 performance at the dish earned two RBI.

In total, Medicine Hat outhit Regina 13-6 to solidify their record at home at 6-2 in the post-season.

Regina’s quest for a third league title will have to wait at least another year. Their last championship, which came in 2012, came with a 3-1 series win over Medicine Hat.

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