Powered by a strong starting pitching performance and some timely hitting, the Red Deer Riggers opened the Sunburst Baseball League playoffs with a 12-2 win Tuesday night at Great Chief Park.
Davin Gulbransen tossed an seemingly easy seven innings in Game 1 of the best-of-three series against the St. Albert Tigers and was aided by five double plays while only allowing two runs with five strikeouts.
The 44-year-old said a four-run bottom of the first inning by the offence helped set the tone for the evening. Even with the run support, the long-time starter admitted he still gets butterflies when he takes the mound, but after a couple zeros go up on the scoreboard it helped settled the nerves.
“Tonight was one of those nights – hit some spots, Maz (Joel Mazurkewich) called a really good game. Our defence made a lot of double plays and as a pitcher that can really turn momentum even in your own mind,” Gulbransen said.
“I’m 44-years-old and I still get butterflies when I start. When you put up four in the first, it takes a little bit of heat off and I thought we played a really good game.”
Leading the way for the Riggers on offence was Kerry Boon. Boon hasn’t played much for the Riggers this season, but hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, immediately after Jason Louis crushed a two-run shot of his own. Boon finished the night with 3-for-4, and had three RBI in the win. Louis also finished the game with three RBI.
“Davin set the tone early and in the first inning we took advantage of their mistakes and they gave us a couple outs and got the hits when we needed to get them,” shortstop Jason Chatwood said.
Sunburst Baseball League batting champion JP Wilner went 2-for-3 and added three runs.
The Riggers are right back at it Wednesday night in St. Albert as they look to close out the best-of-three series on the road. Josh Edwards will take the hill for Red Deer and Chatwood said the team really gets behind him when he starts.
“It’s a short series and anything can happen. You never know and you want to take advantage of any opportunity,” Chatwood said. “Come out and have a solid start. Josh is going to start and the team is always confident when he is on the mound.”