By IAN WILSON
The Western Canadian Baseball League’s 56-game regular season is over.
And what a season it was, full of thrilling individual performances, record-breaking efforts and dramatic playoff chases.
Along the way, the Okotoks Dawgs set a new WCBL standard for wins. They were victorious 43 times, surpassing the 41-win total of the Regina Red Sox in 2019.
“I am honoured and thankful for the opportunity to coach in the Dawgs organization and to be backed by the support from Dawgs management, game-day staff, parents, billets, and most of all the players and my coaching staff. My name is just one of many that gets to be next to this record,” said Mitch Schmidt, head coach of the Dawgs, after the historic achievement.
Added Dawgs infielder Ricardo Sanchez: “It’s a pretty cool feeling, this team had an amazing regular season, but the job is not done.”
Sanchez is bang on there.
Now it’s time for the big dance.
Here’s a look at the best-of-three series format, the schedule and a quick rundown of the teams who received an invitation to the postseason.
(1) Okotoks Dawgs vs. (4) Brooks Bombers
Game 1 at Seaman Stadium in Okotoks, Monday, Aug. 8th, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2 at Elks Field in Brooks, Tuesday, Aug. 9th, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 at Seaman Stadium in Okotoks, Wednesday, Aug. 10th, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
NOTES: During the regular season, Okotoks hitters led the WCBL in runs (437), hits (607), doubles (135), total bases (891), stolen bases (114), on-base percentage (.403), batting average (.315) and slugging percentage (.463). The Bombers also had a potent offence, which was first in the league in home runs (51) and second in runs (418), doubles (110), total bases (862), and slugging percentage (.440). On the mound, the Dawgs issued the fewest walks (188) in the WCBL, and had the second-best ERA (3.69) and strikeout total (461). Pitchers with the Bombers had the highest opponent batting average (.350) and second-worst ERA (6.98). This is the first time the Brooks Bombers have qualified for the postseason since they entered the league in 2016.
(2) Sylvan Lake Gulls vs. (3) Fort McMurray Giants
Game 1 at Gulls Stadium in Sylvan Lake, Monday, Aug. 8th, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2 at Legacy Dodge Field in Fort McMurray, Tuesday, Aug. 9th, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 at Gulls Stadium in Sylvan Lake, Wednesday, Aug. 10th, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
NOTES: The pitching of the Gulls was outstanding in 2022, finishing first in ERA (3.66) and WHIP (1.23), while posting the fewest hits allowed (398) and recording the most strikeouts (542). The Giants were also impressive on the bump, registering the lowest opposing batting average (.255) and the third-best ERA (3.99). At the plate, both teams were middle of the pack in most offensive categories. The Giants are making their first playoff appearance in franchise history.
(1) Regina Red Sox vs. (4) Medicine Hat Mavericks
Game 1 at Currie Field in Regina, Monday, Aug. 8th, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2 at Athletic Park in Medicine Hat, Tuesday, Aug. 9th, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 at Currie Field in Regina, Wednesday, Aug. 10th, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
NOTES: Regina batters have picked up more walks (301) than any other club in the WCBL, but the Mavs have issued the fewest walks (208) of any East Division squad. The Mavericks have been aggressive on the bases. Medicine Hat has the third-highest stolen base total (100) and their base runners have been caught stealing (37) more than any other team. Red Sox pitchers logged more innings (492.2) than any team, while allowing the least earned runs (229) and hits (477) in the East Division. The Red Sox also picked up more strikeouts (448) than any other team in the East. This is a rematch of the 2018 Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) championship – the league was rebranded the WCBL in 2019.
(2) Moose Jaw Miller Express vs. (3) Swift Current 57’s
Game 1 at Ross Wells Park in Moose Jaw, Monday, Aug. 8th, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2 at Mitchell Field in Swift Current, Tuesday, Aug. 9th, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 at Ross Wells Park in Moose Jaw, Wednesday, Aug. 10th, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
NOTES: Miller Express hitters were first in the East Division in runs (416), hits (599), home runs (43), RBI (359), total bases (860), on-base percentage (.399), batting average (.300), and slugging percentage (.431). Pitchers from Moose Jaw and Swift Current issued more walks than any other hurlers in the league – the Miller Express recorded 303 bases on balls, while the 57’s offered up 288 free passes. The 57’s also registered more wild pitches (99) than any other squad and both teams were vulnerable when it came to surrendering home runs. Swift Current gave up 43 long balls and the Miller Express allowed 36 round trippers.
Following the semi-finals, the West and East Division final matchups will take place from Aug. 12-14.
The WCBL championship final dates are set for Aug. 16-18 and the winning team will be awarded the Harry Hallis Memorial Trophy.