Curtis Mazurkewich got the pitch he was looking for and didn’t miss it.
Mazurkewich slammed a grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Red Deer Riggers a walk-off 7-6 victory over the St. Albert Tigers in Sunburst Baseball League action at Great Chief Park Tuesday.
“I’ve hit a grand slam before but not a walk-off one,” said Mazurkewich. “He was struggling a bit, so I was looking for a fastball and I got it.”
Mazurkewich’s shot to deep right field came off reliever Jason Richmond, who replaced starter Matt Hammond in the ninth with the Tigers holding a 6-3 lead.
He walked Jason and Jaret Chatwood to open the inning. Shayne Court was on on a fielder’s choice before Kerry Boon walked to load the bases. Then with a one-and-one count Mazurkewich played the role of hero. It was his third hit of the game as he earlier collected a single and a RBI double.
The hit was like a breath of fresh air for the Riggers, who lost 7-0 to Fort Saskatchewan in the final of their tournament, and for the most part were struggling to get a big hit against Hammond, who threw 146 pitches over eight innings.
“It’s been a little rough patch,” said Mazurkewich. “Losing the final of our tournament was a bummer, so this was good to come out with a victory.”
“That hit was a big boost for us,” said Riggers manager Curtis Bailey. “We seemed a little sleepy for most part of the game and going into our final two regular season games we needed a lift. Good job by Curtis.”
Mazurkewich is in his second full season with the Riggers after playing college ball in Kansas and Texas.
“Last winter I played in Kelowna, but I’m done with that now,” he said. “I just got my EMR course and I’m planning on being a paramedic.”
As for being with the Riggers, he’s feeling right at home.
“I feel more comfortable this year . . . we have a good team and good guys.”
Dustin Northcott started for the Riggers and worked into the fifth before tiring.
Davin Gulbransen came on and was touched up for a two-run opposite field single before getting out of the fifth. He shut the door until the ninth when he gave up a run after he appeared to have Dan Curtis struck out to end the inning.
“Northcott threw well before he tired and Davin did a great job of keeping us in the game and giving us a chance to come back,” said Mazurkewich.
The win gave the Riggers an 11-3 record with two games remaining— Monday in Fort Saskatchewan and Tuesday in St. Albert.
“We need one more win to wrap up first place,” said Bailey.
The Riggers were without two regulars in Mike Ronnie and Denver Wik, both away on holidays.
Joel Peterman played second base and was outstanding in the field with Kevin Curran and Bailey making two of the top defensive plays. Curran started in left field and threw out Brad Wolansky at the plate in the sixth inning, then made a great running catch deep in centre field after he moved into second base in the ninth. Bailey came on in the ninth to play centre field and made a diving grab on a sinking liner for the first out of the ninth.
Jaret Chatwood finished with two hits and two walks while Jason Chatwood had a single and two walks.