It was a game the Red Deer Riggers let get away.
One bad inning cost them as they dropped a 5-4 decision to the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics in Sunburst Baseball League play before an excellent crowd at Great Chief Park Tuesday.
The Riggers dominated the first seven innings, but the A’s got to a pair of Red Deer pitchers in the eighth, scoring five times against Sean Maguire and Davin Gulbransen.
“It was a tough one for sure,” said Riggers playing manager Curtis Bailey.
“We got great pitching then seemed to hit the wall.”
Josh Edwards started for the Riggers, tossing four innings of two-hit shutout ball before giving way to Brant Stickel, who allowed one hit over three innings and he was wiped out on a double play.
Maguire came on and gave up a pair of seeing eye singles before walking the next two batters. A sacrifice fly made it 4-2 before Maguire hit Lance Romanchuk and gave up a run-scoring single to Matt Beaudry. Gulbransen came on and threw a wild pitch and Henry Duke lined a single to plate what proved to be the winning run.
“I could have taken Sean out a couple of batters before,” said Bailey. “When I went out the first time he said his knee had a little pain, but we thought he would be OK.”
Bailey could have easily won the game if he left Edwards or Stickel in. Neither pitcher has given up an earned run this season.
But with a St. Albert tournament this weekend he didn’t want to push anyone.
“I hate a game like this as we haven’t played much in two weeks and we want to give everyone a chance to throw some and be ready for the tournament,” he said. “Looking back Josh could have went seven or eight innings and Brant could have finished, but that’s the way it goes.
“The A’s are a team that doesn’t give up. They’re tough to beat and don’t get rattled when they’re down. They swing the bats and the next thing you know they have five runs.
“We lost one we should have won, but we’ve won a couple maybe we should have lost, so it happens.”
The Riggers also didn’t execute at the plate when they had chances. They managed 12 hits off starter Karnie Vertz, but also left 12 runners on base, including twice leaving the bases loaded.
“We had our chances, but didn’t finish and didn’t execute,” added Bailey.
The Riggers got to Vertz for two runs in the second inning on a double by Jordan Weinkauf, who scored Bailey from first, and a single by Shayne Court.
In the sixth they added two more runs with two away as Jason Chatwood lined a double to plate Court, who had doubled, and then scored on Mike Ronnie’s single.
Drew Boyer replaced Vertz in the seventh and tossed shutout ball for two innings before hitting Jason Chatwood and walking Kerry Boon in the ninth with one away. James Fischer came on and got the save, fanning Curtis Mazurkewich and Weinkauf.
The Riggers play twice Saturday in St. Albert, facing the A’s at 10 a.m. and Edmonton Confederation Park at 2 p.m.
“It’s a good chance to get some games in and if we do our part we can play four games,” said Bailey.
The Riggers host their own tournament, July 19-21.
l Jaret and Jason Chatwood and Court had two hits each . . . Riggers have an 8-3 record and in first place in the league while the A’s are 6-5 and in third back of Confederation and ahead of St. Albert . . . Riggers travel to Edmonton to face Confederation Tuesday and host St. Albert July 23. They also visit St. Albert July 30 and have two other makeup games remaining.