Sometimes, planning your pitching for the Canadian College Baseball Conference championship tournament can seem like trying to put together a 10,000-piece puzzle.
That being the case, Alex Regan has made things a little simpler for Lethbridge's Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs.
PBA, the defending CCBC champion and the No. 1 seed for this weekend's tournament, split its Thursday games. The Dawgs opened with a 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners, before dumping the Calgary Dinos 6-1 at NorBrock Stadium.
PBA will take on the Okanagan College Coyotes today, 2 p.m., and the host TRU WolfPack on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The top four teams after the round-robin will play in the semifinals, with the final scheduled for Sunday.
Regan tossed a gem in Thursday's second game, holding the Dinos to three hits while keeping his pitch count to 80, which was his limit. That means Regan, who had the CCBC's top earned-run average (1.07), will be available for a Saturday or Sunday semifinal, or the final.
"That's sort of the plan," said Regan, a 6-foot-4 lefty from Calgary. "I'm just going to do what I can the next couple of days to get ready for the final or the semis."
The teams that meet in Sunday's final will end up playing six games over a four-day period, so preserving pitchers is key.
That's why the coaches at this weekend's championship tournament put so much thought into who pitches when, and against whom. Since four teams make the semifinals, a team only needs to win two of its four round-robin games to qualify.
"Yeah, only one team gets eliminated, but I would rather win every game than go 2-2," said PBA head coach Todd Hubka. "You want to win them all — it's baseball."
Hubka started Brandon Petite against the third-seeded Mariners, who started their ace, Connor Russell. The Dawgs went with Regan in the second game which, based on record, was the more winnable game — Calgary went 5-20 during the regular season, well back of VIBI (13-15) and PBA (20-6).
It wasn't an accident that the rotation ended up that way.
"We've set up our rotation the way we think is best to win this tournament," Hubka said. "If it works, it works and if it doesn't, it doesn't — but we're not going to change anything because of what's happened so far."
Petite allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, as PBA only managed four hits off Russell, who threw 95 pitches and should be available to pitch on the weekend. Chad Schultz went 2-for-3, drove in a run and scored a run for the Mariners.
Colby Turple drove in three of PBA's runs in the victory over Calgary, and Ryan Pidhaichuk went 2-for-2 and scored two runs. Bretton Gouthro also had two hits and drove in a run.
Lefty Joey Cavadini went five innings for Calgary, allowing six runs on eight hits.
Kyle Fruson drove in the Dinos' lone run with an RBI single in the fourth. Aside from that inning, in which he allowed two hits and hit Chris Van Keulen with a pitch, Regan was solid.
"I felt pretty strong . . . I was throwing strikes," said Regan, who struck out five. "The only thing — I felt like I was rushing when I was in the stretch, so I had to slow myself down a bit and let my defence do the work instead of trying to overpower everybody."
Denver Wynn, who, like Regan, was named a CCBC first-team all-star Thursday, struck out seven in a complete-game victory as the WolfPack defeated Okanagan 3-1 last night.
The host WolfPack opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, when Levi Kerns brought home Brent Carmichael with a double.
Brock Stewart drove in the WolfPack's next two runs — his single brought home Kyle Sandulescu in the third, before a fielder's choice scored Dave Hole in the fifth.
Jeff Bouchard had an RBI single in the fifth inning for the Coyotes, who went with lefty Zach Burlon.
TRU will play twice today — against the Dinos at 11:30 a.m., and the Mariners at 7 p.m. Okanagan will take on VIBI at 9 a.m., and PBA and 2 p.m.