Halfway through the season the Gulls have met expectations

Gulls have won 11 in a row

The Sylvan Lake Gulls have liked what they've seen so far through the first half of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) season.

With just a month left in the regular season, the Gulls have found their identity and are one of the best teams in the league.

One might argue the second-best squad behind the defending champion Okotoks Dawgs but that's a discussion for further down the line.

Right now, they're rolling as winners of 11 straight games after a 17-2 drubbing of the Brooks Bombers on Sunday.

Head coach Jason Chatwood said they've been great throughout the first half of the season in all aspects of the game.

"We've pitched really well and offensively we've been very very good," Chatwood said.

"From top to bottom, regardless of what our lineup is each night guys are going to give us quality at-bats and are defending the ball well... Overall our guys are playing hard and that's one thing as a coaching staff we really appreciate.

"We've been able to score a lot of runs but I think sometimes our pitching might get overlooked because of how strong offensively we've looked at times throughout the year. Defensively we've always been very good so I think it's all been complimenting each other."

With 23 games to go in the season, the Gulls have a 27-7 record which is good enough for second-best in the league standings.

Offensively, they've seen the rise of rookie designated hitter Cooper Ciesielski who's first on the team with 39 runs batted in, which is second best in the WCBL. He's also knocked nine home runs out of the park and has a .390 batting average.

Outfielder Gavin Roy, who's also in his first year in Sylvan Lake, has impressed with 30 RBI.

"We didn't know how long it would take Cooper to feel comfortable. He was coming off a broken foot in the spring so he wasn't able to play much at school," Chatwood added.

"I thought he'd have a slower start than he did just to get used to the pace of the play but from the first pitch of the year he's been very consistent."

The Gulls have also been blessed with plenty of local talent that joined the squad this year.

Former Red Deer Braves players Matthew Murray, Ryley Doig, Gavin Galenza, and Nathan Flewelling have all been solid contributors.

Flewelling recently rejoined the Gulls after some time away for the MLB Draft Combine and Team Canada selection camp. Since then, he's knocked in 10 RBI and three home runs in nine games.

"Those local guys the last three years have seen the Gulls and what the team has evolved into... Whatever opportunities those guys have been getting, they've been taking full advantage of them, so it's been great to see," Chatwood said.

Of the seven losses this season, four of them have come against the Dawgs.

The Gulls have yet to record a win against them but not many teams have beat the Dawgs. The Dawgs have recently gone through a bit of a slide losing four of their last 10 games but for the most part, have been dominant.

Chatwood said they're a team you can't make many mistakes against or they'll make you pay.

"They're very talented and have a lot of experience. We've had some really good competitive games against them but there's maybe a few little things that don't go our way... You have to have a clean game and pitch the ball well. It's going to take everyone on the field to beat them," he added.

The Gulls will return to the field on Tuesday in Lethbridge against the Bulls at 7:05 p.m. Their next home game is set for Wednesday where they'll face the Dawgs at 7:05 p.m.

"There's been nights where it's rainy and it's windy. It's been amazing to see the turnout of the people coming and staying all nine innings to show their support for the guys," he said. "We love playing at home and we love our fans."

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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