Kelsey Rokochy and Wyatt Harkes combined for seven scoreless innings as the Swift Current 18U AAA 57’s defeated the Moose Jaw Canucks 9-0 in their long awaited Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League home opener on Wednesday.
The 57’s improved to 2-1 on the season after their previous six games had been postponed due to rising COVID-19 cases in the Southwest.
“It was a lot different than the first weekend we played,” said Rokochy. “We started piecing some balls together as a team, having two or three hits in our first weekend wasn’t too good obviously for creating offense. We were just relying on all the walks we had. We started to piece a couple of hits and walks together today. We played some pretty some solid defense today and it showed as we didn’t let any runs score. All around I think we had a pretty solid night and improved a lot from our last games. Hopefully, if we keep going up like this, it should be a pretty good rest of the season.”
Rokochy allowed only one hit and two walks while striking out five over four innings in the win.
“I was just really slowing it down tonight, just used my patience, just taking deep breathes for every pitch, just trying to focus myself into the zone. I just threw strikes and threw hard.”
Harkes came on in the fifth inning and held the Canucks to one hit and one walk with five strikeouts over three relief innings.
The 57’s had only managed a total of four hits in their opening two games of the season before knocking out 13 hits in the win.
Catcher Ethan Murdoch led the home team with four hits, a stolen base, one run scored, and one run batted in. Rokochy helped his own cause with two doubles, two runs scored, two RBI, a stolen base, and a hit by pitch that he comically caught and swiftly tossed back to the offending party before taking his base.
Shortstop Dawson Schultz singled and finished with three RBI. Kole Giesbrecht tripled, scored, and brought home a run. Rylan Hildebrand singled twice, walked, and scored. Riley Bowers tripled, singled, scored, and had two RBI. Ben Patenaude singled, walked, and scored twice.
Wins and losses aside, Rokochy sounded thankful to be back out on the diamond.
“It’s been great being out here with these guys, having something to do. Obviously kids like us, we’ve been playing sports our whole lives, nobody likes to just be stuck at home, sitting in their bedrooms, sleeping in until 1 p.m., so it’s nice to get out here, have something to do and come be a part of a team again.”
Social distancing protocols were very noticeable as the teams used their own set of baseballs each half inning, players sanitized their hands upon entering the dugout each time, and customary celebrations of runs and standout plays were non-existent.
“It’s a little different for the team aspect because you can’t give a guy a high-five or anything like that, you have to be wary at all times. But really baseball is still baseball and we’re out here having fun,” said Rokochy.
The 18U AAA 57’s will return to league action on August 8 when they host the Canucks (0-7) for a double header beginning at 1 p.m. They will host the SouthEast Twins (2-7) the following day for another double header.