The Dogs capped their round robin with a 14-4 mercy-rule win over the Saskatoon Braves Gophers on Saturday evening, advancing to the championship semifinal on Sunday morning.
It’s been as positive a weekend as one would expect for a team reaching a provincial final four, and one Prairie Dogs head coach Craig Flanagan had an idea could be in the cards as they prepared for the event.
“The last week, week and a half I like the way our team has been playing,” Flanagan said. “The energy and the attitude has been good amongst the team, it’s been really positive and we’re just excited to be in the semis now as hosts of provincials.”
The Dogs opened the event with a 10-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blue Jays Snipers at Lyle Helland Ball Diamond on Friday night before dropping an 8-1 decision to the Saskatoon Blue Jay Mud Dawgs in their first game Saturday at Gamble Field.
That set the stage for their meeting with the Gophers, with all sorts of tiebreakers and playoff implications on the line had they lost.
No worries, though – after a bit of a slow start, the Prairie Dogs bats warmed up while taking advantage of a handful of walks to put together the five-inning mercy-rule win.
“It was a little tough, I thought early in the game, a few things went their way,” Flanagan said. “Their starting pitcher was a bit tough but we thought once we got through him we might have a little easier time with their other pitching and that’s what happened.”
For their part, Moose Jaw knew what was on the line and made sure to do everything they could to give themselves the best chance of reaching the playoff round.
“The hugest thing at this level of ball is throwing strikes and our kids were able to do that,” Flanagan said. “We had to kind of go after it today, we threw some of our stronger pitchers just to make sure we got the win and into the semis. We’re still sitting really, really good heading into the semis with the guys we have, so we’ll see what happens.”
Their opponent will be a familiar one – the Regina Pacers, who won all three games in their pool and have been a consistently close opponent all season in Baseball Regina league play.
“We’ve battled the Pacers throughout the year with some really tight games, a lot of one-run games,” Flanagan said. “So we’re hoping for another good game with them.”
The contest goes at 10 a.m. at Helland Diamond, with the other semifinal between the Saskatoon Royals Thunder and Blue Jay Mud Dawgs taking place at the same time at Gamble Field.
The gold medal game is set for 1 p.m. at Helland Diamond.