Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Capitals held a slim 1-0 lead through five innings in Game 1 of the North Division Championship Series against the Calgary Vipers, but the provincial rivals battled back with nine straight runs and eventually emerged victorious 9-3.
The Vipers now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven North American League division championship series with Game 2 scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Edmonton once again. The series then shifts to Calgary Thursday through Saturday for Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5 (if necessary).
The series winner will battle either the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings or San Angelo Colts in the NAL championship. The Whitewings currently lead the South Division Championship Series 2-0.
Calgary first baseman C.J. Ziegler only had one hit during Tuesday’s Game 1, but it was a massive knockout blow, as he belted a grand slam over the left field wall in the eighth inning to all but secure the victory. The Vipers also got a solid start from Mike Burns, who gave up just one run on five hits through eight innings to earn the victory.
Caps starter Lou Pote also had a strong outing, scattering three runs and 10 hits over 6.1 innings with five strikeouts in what could end up being his final game as a professional baseball player. The two-time defending Caps pitcher of the year and 2002 World Series champion will retire at the end of this season.
At the plate, Burns and the Vipers kept the Caps fairly quiet, as only second baseman Matt Rogelstad and shortstop Rex Rundgren recorded multi-hit games. Rundgren also drove in one run, as did catcher J.D. Closser, while centre fielder Todd Linden hit a solo home run in the ninth to account for the final Caps run.
The Caps will look to even the series at one game apiece on Wednesday in Game 2, which is a special playoff edition of Wiener Wednesday presented by K-97, featuring hot dogs on sale for just $2. Also, fans are encouraged to arrive at the ballpark early since Edmonton Oilers defenceman Theo Peckham will toss the ceremonial first pitch.
Playoff tickets start at just $10 in advance and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, at the Capitals Box Office (10233 – 96 Ave) during regular business hours Monday through Friday, online at capsbaseball.ca or via phone at 780-414-GOAL (4625).