Power pitcher Reign Letkeman is happy to be home and the Red Deer Riggers are more than happy to have him on board.
The Red Deer minor baseball product suited up for his initial game with the Riggers Tuesday at Great Chief Park and helped the club post a 10-7 Sunburst Baseball League win over the Edmonton Cubs.
Jason Louis was the Riggers’ man of the hour — cranking a three-run, walk-off homer in the ninth inning to keep the home squad unbeaten at 15-0 — but Letkeman also played a role in the victory. The six-foot-two, 165-pound hurler worked a one-two-three eighth inning and then ran into some tough luck and gave up two runs in the ninth.
Letkeman retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the final frame, then walked Greg Brady and allowed a single by Ryan Thrasher. He then fanned Cory Scammell, but the ball eluded Riggers catcher Jaret Chatwood to load the bases.
Dan Chappel followed with a two-run single up the middle to tie the game, setting the stage for Louis’ heroics.
“Just a bad hop with the ball going the wrong way, but it all worked out,” said Letkeman of the unfortunate bounce that extended the contest.
The former Red Deer midget AAA pitcher joined the Red Deer senior team after speaking with Davin Gulbransen, one of his former coaches and a Riggers veteran.
“He asked me to come out. There was an opening and I was just glad to join the team,” said Letkeman. “It’s good to be in town playing with good, quality guys. I can learn a lot because the guys are older. They can teach me a lot on and off the field.”
Letkeman played three years with the Red Deer Carstar Braves, then joined the Sherwood Park Athletics last year for his final season of midget AAA baseball.
“I wasn’t sure if there was going to be a (midget AAA) team in Red Deer because a lot of players were going to (baseball) academies,” he explained of his decision to hook up with the Athletics.
When his midget season ended, Letkeman enrolled at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Wash., on a baseball scholarship and threw strikes for the Vikings. He’ll be back at Big Bend in the fall and hopes to move on to a bigger school down the road.
For now, he’s tickled to be with the top senior team in the province and is anticipating pitching for the Riggers at the Canadian championship tournament in Newfoundland in August.
“That’s going to be exciting. It’s nice to be a part of this team,” he said.
The Riggers broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning on an RBI sacrifice by Jason Chatwood and a passed ball that allowed Mark Fay to scamper home from third.
Jaret Chatwood cracked a pair of doubles for the winners, drove in a run and scored twice, while Mike Ronnie delivered a run-scoring single in the first frame and came through with a clutch two-run triple in the seventh. Ronnie also contributed an RBI sacrifice.
Cory Scammel paced the visitors with a double off Riggers starting pitcher Gulbransen in the second inning, and a solo home run off Joel Peterman in the fourth. Riley Moskaluk, Clay Davis and Nick Yakimchuk had RBI hits as the Cubs struck for three runs in the second frame.
Gulbransen was touched for four runs on seven hits through the first three innings. Peterman worked the next three innings — giving up one run on three hits while recording three strikeouts — and Wyle Cunningham pitched a scoreless seventh.
The Riggers touched Cubs starter Moskaluk for five runs on seven hits through seven and one-third innings. Matt Courneya releived Moskaluk and pitched the rest of the way.
• The Riggers head to B.C. today and will take on Everett, Wash., in their first game of the Kamloops tournament Thursday. Red Deer will face the host team a day later.