If there ever was a team win the Red Deer Riggers pulled one out in a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Sherwood Park Athletics at Great Chief Park Tuesday.
The win evened the best-of-five Sunburst Baseball League and provincial senior AAA final at 1-1 with the third and fourth games on Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. at John Fry Park in Edmonton. If a fifth game is necessary it’s Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.
The game had a little bit of everything from good pitching to key hitting and even a few lost balls in the lights.
In fact the winning run was anything but a classic. Shayne Court opened the bottom of the eighth with a single and was sacrificed to second by Denver Wik. After Athletics ace right-hander Adam Paulencu fanned Joel Mazurkewich, Jason Chatwood lined a shot to left which Sheldon Jones appeared to lose in the lights and had it go off his glove, allowing Court to score.
But that wasn’t the end of the excitement.
Andy Herman opened the top of the ninth with a triple off Riggers top reliever Drew Boyer that centre-fielder Court lost as well. That forced the Riggers to pull their infield in. Boyer got Jason Sutherland to ground out to third and got Jones to hit back to the mound on an attempted safety squeeze. When James Fischer popped up the game was over.
“I thought we did enough good things we deserved a couple of breaks,” said playing manager Jason Chatwood. “I guess what you have to do when you do get those breaks is to take advantage of them and we did that tonight, That was a huge team victory off their ace.”
“We did everything we could and it fell our way,” said Mazurkewich, who had another solid game with two hits and a walk. He had three hits in a 6-5 loss Monday.
“I’m kind of feeling it right now … in a groove,” he said. “I’m seeing the ball well, which is nice.”
Mazurkewich, who played in left field, said the lights can be tricky.
“There’s a couple of innings every game where it’s hard to see the ball. I don’t think he (Jones) was used to it and lost it.”
Riggers started Tyler Vavra on the mound and he struggled early, hitting the first two batters he faced, both of whom scored. He gave up three more runs in the third on two hits and three walks.
However, he battled his way through the fourth and fifth inning before giving way to Davin Gulbransen.
“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he gave us a couple extra innings which saved our bullpen,” said Chatwood.
The Riggers got to Paulencu in the third on a two-run single by Jason Louis, but did little over the next three innings. In fact Paulencu struck out the side in the sixth.
“He’s a very, very good pitcher, but I also thought we put together some good at bats and forced him to throw a lot of pitchers (137),” said Chatwood.
Mazurkewich opened the seventh with a single, but was forced at second by Chatwood. JP Wilner singled and following a pop up by Louis Aaron Dunsmore hit a mammoth home run over the right centre field wall to tie the game. On the very next pitch Jaret Chatwood lined a solo home run just inside the left field foul pole.
“We hadn’t even sat down after Aaron’s homer and you heard the crack,” said Jason Charwood. “Big hits in a big game.”
Gulbransen came in in the sixth and left with two away and two on in the seventh. Joel Peterman got the final out and worked into the eighth leaving in favour of Boyer with a man on second and two away. However, Lance Romanchuk doubled to tie the game, setting the stage for the wild finish.
“A huge win, we would have been in tough down 2-0,” said Chatwood. “Now anything can happen. I know it’s going to be fun the rest of the week. It always is against them.”
Wilner and Jaret Chatwood had three hits each with Louis adding a pair. Romanchuk had three hits and Herman two for the A’s.