A's take series lead with win over Riggers
Make mistakes against the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics and they’ll make you pay.
The Red Deer Riggers know that from battling the two-time defending Sunburst Baseball League champions all season. But for some reason if they did forget they received a tough reminder as the A’s pulled out a 9-3 victory to grab a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five SBL and provincial senior AAA playoffs before close to 150 fans at Great Chief Park Tuesday.
Every time the Riggers pitching slipped up the A’s took advantage as they never trailed and put the game away with four runs in the seventh to take an 8-3 lead.
Dustin Northcott, who hasn’t thrown a lot this season, kept the Riggers in the game until tiring in the seventh. He gave up a leadoff single to Kiel Vertz and after Drew Boyer popped up, he hit leadoff hitter Andy Herman, bringing on Davin Gulbransen.
Gulbransen wasn’t sharp and hit Jason Sutherland to load the bases. Lance Romanchuk singled home two runs, Matt Beaudry singled home a run and Tom Mulethaler hit a sacrifice fly.
“I possibly should have pulled Dustin before that inning,” said Riggers manager Curtis Bailey. “It’s one of those things. You look at where we were in the order and he had dominated them.
“Davin does do a better job coming in to start an inning, but I felt he would handle it an it didn’t work out.”
What the Riggers didn’t do all evening was handle Romanchuk, who slammed a two-run home run off Northcott in the third inning, singled and scored in the sixth, then hit a solo home run in the ninth off Gulbransen to finish with five RBIs and four runs.
“He can swing the bat and early on Dustin didn’t have his off-speed pitches working and so they were sitting on his fastball and Lance can hit it a long way. In fact the top of their order can hit it a long way.”
Jason Sutherland drilled a solo home run in the first inning.
Karnie Vertz started and went eight innings for the A’s, allowing single runs in the second, fifth and sixth. The Riggers didn’t help themselves as they had two men on and none away in the third, but Denver Wik was caught off third on a line drive. Then in the sixth Curtis Mazurkewich was thrown out at second when he wandered off on a ball in the dirt that catcher Henry Duke was able to corral and throw to second.
“We had our chances to get things going and put pressure on their defence, but instead we seemed to put pressure on ourselves and it came back to bite us,” said Bailey.
“But the bottom line was we didn’t swing the bats well when we had chances to take control of the game.”
Five times in the first six innings the Riggers had two men on and none away, but managed just the three runs.
Vertz, who worked to two batters in the ninth before giving way to Boyer, allowed nine hits and five walks.
“He wasn’t fooling us, just throwing strikes and we didn’t do a good job of going with the pitch . . . when we did we got hits,” said Bailey.
Vertz consistently threw to the outside part of the plate and the Riggers collected seven hits of the opposite field.
• Matt Fay, Kerry Boon and Wik had two hits each . . . Duke added three hits for the A’s . . . Vertz throw 139 pitches . . . The fourth game of the series is tonight in Sherwood Park with the fifth game, if necessary, Friday at Great Chief Park . . . Josh Edwards will start for the Riggers tonight . . . Riggers are without Jason Chatwood, who is with Team Canada at the World Baseball Challenge in Prince George.