“It has to end” — Dawgs still have WolfPack’s number, despite incredible pitching performance (KTW article)

  Posted on: May 18, 2017

Yutaro Takasaki (Allen Douglas photo)

By Adam Williams
Kamloops This Week Sports

(Posted with Permission of Kamloops This Week)

Scott Wood doesn’t remember much from his two starts at the Canadian College Baseball Conference Championship.

But as the tournament becomes more of a memory, bits and pieces start to float to the surface.

Wood remembers throwing 88 pitches in a complete-game nine-hitter as the Thompson Rivers WolfPack opened the tournament with a 13-2 defeat of the Fraser Valley Cascades.

He remembers striking out the top hitter on the Lethbridge-based Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs, the six-time defending champions, in the bottom of the ninth inning of the gold-medal game, the bases loaded with two outs and the score tied 2-2.

And he remembers standing behind home plate, flipping the ball to the umpire, as the Dawgs ran past him to celebrate the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

“I felt like I let the boys down,” Wood told KTW on Tuesday. “I know it was the 11th inning and usually pitchers don’t throw 11 innings, but I battled from the first pitch to the last pitch and it just wasn’t enough. Myself, in my mind, it was, ‘Aw, I let the boys down.’

“It doesn’t really matter how well I threw. We lost. I felt defeated.”

Wood threw an astounding 139 pitches, 93 of them strikes, in the gold-medal game, which would eventually end in a 4-3 extra-innings win for the Dawgs.

His performance on the mound was incredible — the 22-year-old surrendered 10 hits, two walks and three earned runs, while striking out a pair in 10-and-two-thirds innings of work.

Over the course of four days, he had thrown 227 pitches, more than double the average work for a major league pitcher.

In his own words, it wasn’t enough.

“It pisses me off, I’ll be honest,” Wood said.

“At the end of the day, I think we should have won that game. I don’t think PBA deserved to win that game and it angers me to know that they have won it seven years in a row.

“It needs to end.”

The WolfPack were a different team at the CCBC championship.
After winning Wood’s initial start against the Cascades, the Pack went on to lose 11-3 to the Dawgs before winning three straight — 16-11 over the Calgary Dinos, 7-2 over the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners, both in round-robin play, and 6-2 against the host Okanagan Coyotes in semifinal action.

The three-game run set the stage for the final. Wood was handed the ball on three days’ rest.

“We were short pitching, so we needed somebody to step up — he did that in a big way,” said WolfPack manager Ray Chadwick. “I’ve been here for 15 years. I’ve seen a guy throw a no-hitter in the playoffs. Having said that, this is probably the best pitched game I’ve seen.

“Those guys [PBA] had 10 hits and they had one ball hit hard. They had eight jam shots, or balls off the end of the bat, out of the 10. He threw the crap out of the ball and, again, gave us a chance to win. We just came up short.”

It has been eight years since the WolfPack captured a CCBC crown.

The club won the national championship in 2009, but with the exception of the Mariners winning a title in 2010, it has been all Dawgs since.

PBA has won 10 times since 2002, while the WolfPack just three.

Still, the Wolves remain optimistic for next season. The club will return much of its roster for 2018 and will have added depth on the mound and in the bullpen.

Having forced PBA to extra innings this season, the pressure is on to end Thompson Rivers’ championship drought.

“I feel like we finally came together as a team,” said WolfPack shortstop Blayne Halland, one of only two players, the other outfielder Isiah McDonald, certain not to return next season.

“Everyone was playing pretty damn well.

“It would have been nice to get that last win, but I think everyone is motivated for next year and everyone is excited to come back.”

WolfPack outfielder Ethan Mohan echoed Halland’s sentiments.

“Everyone came to play. It was pretty surreal to watch,” he said.

“I think everyone takes that loss hard. We had a pretty good team and I think we played a lot better baseball that day. But hey, they [PBA] came out on top, so hats off to them.”

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