Out for redemption, the Red Deer Riggers got an early taste of it with a 12-5 win over the Sherwood Park Athletics.
Last August, the Athletics beat the Riggers in the provincial final. The loss left a sour taste in the Riggers’ mouths and they’ve had all offseason to rebound.
The two teams met Tuesday night for the first time since the 15-8 loss in provincials.
Starting pitcher Dustin Northcott admitted that this early in the year, his opponents may not have seen as much live pitching, but that didn’t stop him from throwing seven strikeouts through the first three innings.
“The main goal was to go out there and throw strikes and make them hit you,” said Northcott. “That’s really the game plan for all of us this early in the season.
“It was a lot of first pitch fastballs for a strike.”
Northcott was pulled after the third inning, giving way to Joel Peterman. Davin Gulbranson and Drew Boyer also saw some time on the mound.
The Riggers managed 12 runs on 14 hits in the game. Third baseman J.P. Wilner, in his second game for the Riggers, hit a two-run double in the fifth inning as part of the five runs the Riggers scored in the frame.
“This is our rival, they have been for as long as I’ve been playing here,” said Northcott. “It’s always nice to beat them, but you always expect a good game.”
Last season, the A’s and the Riggers met in the provincial championship game. The Riggers carried an 8-7 lead into the eighth inning, but a collision at the plate brought in the tying run and the A’s rallied to put up seven more runs, winning the game 15-8. Northcott pitched part of that eighth inning on short rest and was unable to get the third out.
“I think everyone was looking forward to this one ever since our last game last year,” said Jason Chatwood, shortstop and manager. “It was nice to come out and guys was solid. Defence was good, pitching was awesome and we hit where we needed to hit and took advantage of situations we go put into.”
Chatwood scored four times in the game, walking twice and hitting a single and a double. The Riggers also managed to score three runs on wild pitches, with Chatwood scoring that way twice.
The Riggers capitalized on several chances, scoring 10 runs in three innings midway through the game. Five runs in the fifth inning were followed by two in the sixth and three in the seventh.
“We have some big bats in the middle of the order and we’re trying to find a way to get on base for one of those guys,” said Chatwood. “We’re pretty balanced, which is nice to have. Good speed, good defence and we have some big bats.”
After two games over a week, the Riggers don’t play again until May 27 in Spruce Grove against the Parkland White Sox. Their next home game is on May 31 at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park against the St. Albert Tigers.