7th Inning Stretch: Andrew Yates

He’s capable of starting games on the bump and going the distance. At Indiana University (IU) Southeast this season, Andrew Yates started five games and recorded two complete games, including a shutout.

The left-handed pitcher also put up solid numbers with the Grenadiers in his senior year. In 40.1 innings of work, Yates posted a perfect 5-0 record and a 3.35 earned run average (ERA), while racking up 36 strikeouts.

With the Okotoks Dawgs, however, the native of Harrodsburg, Kentucky has been a bullpen beast. Yates, who was selected to play in the 2019 Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) All Star Game in Edmonton, has become a trusted middle reliever for the Dawgs. During his 15 innings for Okotoks, he has picked up 16 Ks while issuing just five walks. Yates also sports a 2-0 record and his ERA sits at 3.60.

The 6-foot-1 hurler will undoubtedly be counted on for the Dawgs in high-pressure situations as the regular season winds down and the playoffs approach.

We asked Yates a series of questions earlier this season. Here’s what he had to say for our 7th Inning Stretch feature:

1. What’s it like being a returning player for the Okotoks Dawgs?

As soon as I get back into Okotoks, it feels like home. It feels like this is the best place to play summer baseball.

2. How does it feel knowing this could be your last season of playing baseball at a high level?

I played at IU Southeast in Indiana and I just graduated with my business management degree and I’m here for my last summer of collegiate baseball.

Yates delivers for the Dawgs in 2018 … photo by Ian Wilson

It hasn’t really set in yet and I don’t think it will until around August, but right now it doesn’t feel any different. I’m sure that will change.

3. Do you have any expectations for this summer season, and if so, what are they?

I just hope to go out there and do as good as I can and hopefully get something lined up for the future and continue to keep playing baseball.

4. The Dawgs have once again clinched a playoff berth – their 16th consecutive postseason appearance in team history. But Okotoks has struggled recently in the playoffs. What does the team need to do to get over the hump when the games matter most?

I think you just have to get everybody on the same page and make everybody realize that the target’s on our back. And have everybody understand what it means to be a Dawg and what responsibility comes with that.

5. With clinching a playoff spot so early, do you worry at all about peaking too soon or not having enough left in the tank for the playoffs?

I think back to my college season and if you bust your butt in the regular season and you can get the job done, it makes the postseason that much easier.

As a middle relief option for Dawgs, Yates is used to warming up in the bullpen at Seaman Stadium in Okotoks … photo by Ian Wilson

If you can go out and get the job done and get the one seed or a high seed, it just makes everything that much easier in the postseason to come out with a win.

6. The Dawgs are drawing an average attendance of 3,810 fans per game to Seaman Stadium in 2019. That is tops in the WCBL once again. What’s it like playing baseball in front of so many spectators?

I love it. That’s one of the main reasons I came back here. I had opportunities to go play in other places this summer but I told everybody, ‘No, I’m going back to Okotoks.’ I don’t want to play anywhere else. I don’t want to miss that opportunity because this is the last opportunity I’m going to have to play here and after seeing everything last year, I don’t think there’s anything that beats it.

7. What is your pitching arsenal like? Break it down for us.

I usually throw a four-seam fastball, a change up and a slurve. My fastball is mid to upper 80s (miles per hour).

Yates plays catch with young baseball fans in Okotoks … photo by Ian Wilson

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