It was a bit surprising that the Sherwood Park Athletics didn’t start Adam Paulencu in the fifth and deciding game of the Sunburst Baseball League and provincial senior AAA final against the Red Deer Riggers.
But once starter Ryan MacDonald got in a bit of trouble they were quick to call on Paulencu and he proved too much for the Riggers in a 5-3 10-inning loss before over 400 fans at Great Chief Park Sunday.
Paulencu came in with two men on and one away in the fourth inning and gave up a walk and an infield single which turned into two runs on a throwing error. From then on he shut the door, allowing just four hits the rest of the way.
“We had our chances against him, with two runners on in both the eighth and ninth innings, but you have to tip your hat to him, he’s the best pitcher in the league and he beared down when he had to,” said Riggers playing manager Jason Chatwood.
The Riggers best chance came in the eighth after Jason Louis and Aaron Dunsmore singled to open the frame. Jaret Chatwood sacrificed, but Paulencu fanned both Derrick Chapman and Shayne Court to get out of the jam.
“We just couldn’t find a way to scratch across a run,” said Chatwood. “It’s disappointing, but he was sharper today than he was on Tuesday.”
The Riggers beat Paulencu 7-6 on Tuesday. They won 12-10 on Thursday in Edmonton and lost 6-1 Friday.
Josh Edwards went the distance on Friday, allowing just one earned run. He came on to start the eighth Sunday and took the loss, allowing a two-run home run to Greg Wallace with two away in the 10th.
“It’s tough, one pitch, but Eddy pitched a complete game Friday then battled tonight. He showed a lot of character and we just didn’t get the key hit when we needed it.
“It was a battle between two excellent teams. We had our best and they had their best.”
Drew Boyer, who was used in relief most of the season, started for the Riggers and turned in a great performance, working into the seventh before giving way to Joel Peterman with a man on and two away.
Peterman fanned Jake Lanferman then gave way to Edwards.
Boyer allowed three runs — two earned — on five hits. He fanned four and walked three.
“Drew set the tone for us,” added Chatwood. “He put up some zeros and gave us a chance to win. A great effort by our pitchers and by their pitchers. There was some excellent defence. It was a battle, as was expected.”
The toughest part of the loss was that the A’s will now represent Alberta at next year’s national finals in Victoria.
“That’s tough to swallow,” said Chatwood. “It’s like a two-year process.
“Hopefully everyone is back next year. You never know in senior baseball with jobs, family life and kids, but I love this group of guys and love playing with them.”
Chatwood and Dunsmore had two hits each for the Riggers. Lance Romanchuk and Wallace had two hits apiece for the A’s, who will attend this year’s nationals in Fredericton, N.B.
Jason and Jaret Chatwood, Dustin Northcott and Dunsmore have been added by the A’s, who overall picked up nine players.