It was an all-Alberta final in the Western Canadian Baseball League and it did not disappoint.
After sweeping past the Regina Red Sox in the opening round of the WCBL postseason, the Medicine Hat Mavericks upset the top team in the East Division – the Moose Jaw Miller Express – in their best-of-three series.
The Okotoks Dawgs, meanwhile, needed just four games to dispatch of the Fort McMurray Giants and the Sylvan Lake Gulls in the playoffs.
That set up a Dawgs-Mavs WCBL Championship Final that got underway on Aug. 15th at Seaman Stadium in Okotoks. The Dawgs went to work quickly and claimed an 8-0 win in front of their home fans in Game 1. The Mavericks then responded with a 12-9 triumph at Athletic Park, before Okotoks put the finishing touches on
back-to-back championships with a 13-5 victory in front of a record crowd.
Here’s a look at some of the scenes from that final series:
Dawgs players and coaches engage in some pregame pepper ahead of Game 1 of the WCBL Championship … photo by Ian Wilson
Medicine Hat players hover around the visitor dugout awaiting the start of the series, while a pitcher and catcher walk past the berm from the bullpen area … photo by Ian Wilson
Lou Pote, the interim manager of the Dawgs, and Medicine Hat Mavericks head coach Kevin Mitchell submit lineup cards to the umpires before action gets underway … photo by Ian Wilson
The umpiring crew talk things over before the game gets started … photo by Ian Wilson
Caleb Lumbard, Graham Brunner and Trent Lenihan of the Dawgs listen to the national anthem along with the fans in attendance … photo by Ian Wilson
Adin Hill (right) shares a smile with Okotoks players after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Hill is a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Outfielder Ryan Dousett hustles to make it to first base following a dropped third strike in the opening inning. He was out on the play … photo by Ian Wilson
Shortstop Brendan Luther (right) celebrates the first run of the series – a solo home run in his first at bat – with teammates Ryan McFarland and Alejandro Cazorla … photo by Ian Wilson
Outfielders Logan Grant and Alejandro Cazorla share a smile at first base between innings. Grant went 2-for-5 with a run scored in Game 1, while Cazorla’s two-run homer in the third inning helped grow the Dawgs lead to 4-0.
Kevin Mitchell, skipper of the Mavs, watches from the steps of the dugout … photo by Ian Wilson
Young fans climb the outfield wall to get a glimpse of the action while Medicine Hat centre fielder Brody Gardner watches the batter at the plate … photo by Ian Wilson
Seaman Stadium crowds look on as day turns to night. There were 5,823 fans in attendance to catch the series opener … photo by Ian Wilson
Starting pitcher Graham Brunner (right) gets a hug from teammate Ryan McFarland after exiting the game. Brunner – who didn’t surrender a run in 12.2 playoff innings – picked up the win for the Dawgs by tossing 6.2 scoreless frames and striking out eight Mavericks … photo by Ian Wilson
Young fans seek autographs from shortstop Brendan Luther following an 8-0 win for Okotoks in Game 1 … photo by Ian Wilson
The scene shifted to Athletic Park in Medicine Hat for Game 2, where 2,196 fans came out to cheer on the Mavs, who jumped all over the Dawgs by scoring four runs in the first inning … photo by Eli Merrick
Outfielder Ryan Dousett scores one of his two runs for the home team in a must-win game for the Mavs … photo courtesy Medicine Hat Mavericks
Catcher Dominic VanDoorne smacked a two-run bomb in the bottom of the third inning to restore the four-run lead for the Mavericks and put them up 6-2 … photo courtesy Medicine Hat Mavericks
With the help of four errors by the Dawgs, the Mavs put up 12 runs in Game 2. It was the most runs Okotoks had surrendered all season … photo courtesy Medicine Hat Mavericks
The Dawgs attempted a late comeback by scoring seven runs in the final three innings, including five in the ninth, but Medicine Hat held court and forced a decisive Game 3 back in Okotoks with a 12-9 victory … photo by Eli Merrick
Mavs players tip their caps to the sellout crowd at Athletic Park following their Game 2 win … photo courtesy Medicine Hat Mavericks
Outfielder Eric Hartman looks over the diamond at Seaman Stadium ahead of a winner-take-all Game 3. The Dawgs Academy product only played four WCBL regular season games and didn’t see action again until the championship series. In three games and eight at bats against the Mavericks, the lefty slugger registered three hits – including a double and a Game 2 home run – and recorded five RBI and three runs scored … photo by Ian Wilson
Greg Morrison joined the coaching staff midseason following the departure of head coach Mark Goodman, who left for a professional opportunity in the Pioneer League. The owner of the Mavericks described the 2023 campaign as a special season for Medicine Hat … photo by Ian Wilson
Mavs players huddle up before the final game of the WCBL season … photo by Ian Wilson
Third baseman Connor Crowson is introduced as a part of the starting lineup. Crowson played in all seven postseason games for the Dawgs and batted .393 with five runs and three RBI … photo by Ian Wilson
Dawgs players shed their ball caps for the national anthem … photo by Ian Wilson
The bat boy for the Dawgs retrieves a foul ball from the field … photo by Ian Wilson
Adam Golby, the starting pitcher for the Mavs, hands the ball over to head coach Kevin Mitchell after giving up four earned runs in 2.2 innings … photo by Ian Wilson
Brock Townsend gets set to deliver a pitch while a Mavs runner breaks for second base. Townsend pitched 5.1 innings, struck out five batters, and gave up four runs, but only one of them was earned … photo by Ian Wilson
Dylan Esquival was excellent in the second game of the series in Medicine Hat. The Californian worked 7.2 innings, racked up nine Ks and allowed three earned runs in recording the win. Over the course of the playoffs, Esquival went 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 19 innings. After helping push the series to the limit, the 6-foot-3 lefty could only watch Game 3 unfold from the dugout of Seaman Stadium … photo by Ian Wilson
The bat boy for the Mavs adjust his wrist band as his team watches the play … photo by Ian Wilson
Brendan Luther steps to the dish for the Dawgs as teammates and fans applaud. The attendance for the final game was 5,888 people, a postseason record for the club … photo by Ian Wilson
Skipper Kevin Mitchell tries to motivate his players after the Mavs fall behind 5-0 through the first five innings … photo by Ian Wilson
Second baseman Brady Bean (No. 21) returns to celebrate with his Mavs teammates after scoring as part of a five-run rally that tied the game in the top of the sixth inning … photo by Ian Wilson
Connor Crowson (left), Brendan Luther (middle) and Cade Hermann (right) meet at the mound to figure out how to put an end to Medicine Hat’s sixth-inning surge … photo by Ian Wilson
Mayhem erupts in the bottom of the sixth when the Dawgs strike for six runs to retake the lead against the Mavs. A Logan Grant triple scored two runs, which gave Okotoks a lead they would not relinquish … photo by Ian Wilson
After right fielder Eric Hartman recorded the final out of the game on a Brody Gardner fly ball, the Dawgs secured a 13-5 win and back-to-back WCBL championships. Gavin Wuschke was the winning pitcher in relief for Okotoks and Seth Thompson came in to finish the ninth. Catcher Caleb Lumbard was among the players to end up on the bottom of the celebratory dog pile … photo by Ian Wilson
Coaches and players shake hands at home plate before the presentation of the Harry Hallis Memorial Trophy to the Okotoks Dawgs … photo by Ian Wilson
Brendan Luther tips his cap to the Seaman Stadium fans after being named the WCBL Playoff MVP for the second straight season. The Mississauga native hit .344 with 10 RBI and three clutch homers during the postseason, in addition to playing sound defence at shortstop … photo by Ian Wilson
Dawgs coaches salute the fans in Okotoks … photo by Ian Wilson
The Okotoks Dawgs take a team photo with the Harry Hallis Memorial Trophy … photo by Joe McFarland