FORT McMURRAY, AB - Hot bats early proved to be the difference Saturday for the Medicine Hat Mavericks, getting back into the win column with a 9-4 win over the Fort McMurray Giants.
Jumping out to a 5-0 lead after just three innings, the Mavericks kept the Giants at bay with a seven-inning performance by starting pitcher Evan Sutta to snap a two-game slide.
Cleanup hitter Sal Rodriguez got things going for Medicine Hat in the first inning with Colton Wright sitting at second base, powering a double to the outfield to bring in a run.
The Mavericks doubled that lead to 2-0 one inning later with Reed Odland at the dish, grounding out into a 4-6-3 double play but scoring outfielder Russell Strilchuck from third.
Strilchuck and John Velasco also joined in on the hit parade, each recording RBI-doubles to cash in three more runs in the third inning to pull Giants starter Tyler Hodder from the game.
Medicine Hat’s defensive wall was finally breached in the fourth courtesy of Fort McMurray’s Richard Ortiz, connecting on a Sutta pitch to the outfield to bring home BJ Minarcin from second.
Following a scoreless fifth inning, the Mavericks extended the lead to 6-1 with an RBI-single from Collin Klingensmith to cash in Nolan Rattai.
Sutta’s evening came to a close at the seventh inning stretch after giving up a two-run bomb from Giants short stop Cam Sanderson, closing the gap to 6-3.
For good measure, Medicine Hat added three more runs to its total with an RBI-double from Austin Sojka and a sacrifice-fly courtesy of Rodriguez in the top of the ninth inning.
Sutta’s stat line read seven innings pitched with three earned runs given up on eight hits and four strikeouts, while Flynn Ridley closed out the final two innings for the visiting Mavs.
On the sticks it was a good night for both Rodriguez and Sojka, each driving in a pair of runs in the victory to move Medicine Hat’s record to 5-4 on the WCBL season.
The Mavericks’ season high six-game road trip comes to an end on Sunday afternoon for the team’s fourth game in as many days in Fort McMurray, with first pitch set for 2:05 pm.
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