LETHBRIDGE - High-pressure situations don’t seem to faze this year’s Medicine Hat Mavericks team.
Down to a do-or-die Game 5 against the Lethbridge Bulls on Saturday, the Mavericks rolled to a 4-1 victory on the heels of a one-hit performance from starter Jared Libke.
Mavericks head coach Michael Thompson was quick to praise the game that Libke threw on Saturday.
“That's one of the best performances I've seen all year from any of our pitchers,” said Thompson. “On short days rest, just the guts that he had to go out there and pitch the way that he did. Just a fantastic performance from Jared Libke.”
Pitching eight complete innings, Libke allowed just one hit on 102 pitches and also contributed six strikeouts to his stats.
With the season on the line, Libke said he wanted the ball in his glove Saturday night.
“I want to be the guy on the mound when it's needed,” said Libke. “Just like Game 1, I want to be the guy to come back out. If we're going to lose, I want to be the one that lost it for us. I want everyone in that locker room to want me on the mound.”
Libke’s no-hitter was broken up in the bottom of the seventh inning with two out, as Bulls catcher Carter Witbeck ripped a line drive into right field.
Mavericks first baseman Rock Jordan thought he could have gotten a piece of ball and kept the no-hitter alive, something that Libke disputed.
“He said he could have had it, and I thought it was an absolute missile through the hole,” said Libke. “I told him, ‘You don't have that ball, like that's a hit.’ And of course it's Witbeck, the guy that caught me for two years in college. So, that's pretty fitting that he broke it up.”
Offensively, the Mavericks scored all four of their runs in the second inning and relied upon some exceptional base-running.
Jordan said this team is built for elimination games and everyone enjoys playing in a sudden-death scenario.
“That's what we play for, that's what we grow up [with],” said Jordan. “To compete for a big game, win or go home type of game. You only get a handful of those when you’re playing baseball in your career.”
Thompson added while it would have been great to win the series at home on Friday night in Game 4, this helps prepare the team for a tough test in the Edmonton Prospects.
“Each time you face elimination, it kind of makes you stronger,” he said. “You know how to deal with the next round, you have that confidence because you've been in that pressure situation before.”
Medicine Hat begins the WMBL West Finals on Monday night, as they host the Prospects at Athletic Park at 7:05 pm.
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