Red Deer Rigger JP Wilner had a two RBI double in the first game at nationals to propel Red Deer to a 3-1 win against the Tecumseh Thunder. (File photo)

Riggers open senior nationals with win over defending champs

The Red Deer Riggers made a serious statement to open the 2017 Canadian baseball championship on Thursday.

Red Deer dumped the two-time defending champion Tecumseh Thunder 3-1 in Victoria, B.C., in their first game of the tournament.

“To beat the two-time defending champs, that’s a pretty big game,” shortstop and co-coach Jason Chatwood said. “That first game of the tournament is huge. 1-0 is a huge difference from 0-1. When you get that first one under your belt, you get that sense that you can play with anyone.”

Pitcher Josh Edwards tossed a complete game, fanning four hitters and allowing just five hits and only one earned run. Chatwood added the defence, as it has been all season was steady in Victoria.

“I think Eddy (Josh Edwards) set the tone early. He just attacked the zone and had their hitters off balance. He definitely was the story of the game,” Chatwood said.

“(Our defence) allows our pitches to take advantage of those situations and attack the zone. It was awesome. Total team win and I think for us, we had our best guy on the mound and he did what we needed him to do.”

Red Deer fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but responded quickly in the third.

Riggers slugger JP Wilner provided most of the offence, with a big two-RBI double in the bottom of the third inning. Jason Louis followed that up with another RBI double for the third run of the inning.

“We were pretty consistent with getting guys on base and took advantage of a couple of their errors. Then had a couple timely hits in big spots. It was nice because we gave up a lead and tied it right away,” Chatwood added.

Red Deer will play Manitoba on Friday in their second contest with first pitch set for 11 a.m.Davin Gulbransen will pitch game 2 for the Riggers. You can follow the action here.

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