The Red Deer Riggers are perfect again.
The Fort Saskatchewan Athletics were forced to forfeit their win over the Riggers last week, due to an ineligible player, and Red Deer beat the St. Albert Tigers 7-4 on Tuesday at Great Chief Park to move to 19-0 in the Sunburst Baseball League.
The record may come with an asterisk, but in a few years no one will remember the forfeit — they’ll just see a doughnut in the loss column.
“I’ve been with the team 21 years and I don’t think we’ve ever been undefeated in the league, so it’s a big thing,” said Riggers head coach Curtis Bailey. “We didn’t go out here to have a perfect season by any means, we just wanted to go out and play good baseball every night.”
There is potential for one more regular season game for the Riggers, however. If the last place Parkland White Sox beat the Confederation Park Cubs on Tuesday night — score was not available at press time — Red Deer will have to play the Sox in Spruce Grove on Thursday night. If Parkland loses, they will be eliminated and the final game will be called off.
After the Riggers last couple of weeks, they could use the break.
They are coming off a stretch of playing 13 games in 14 nights and all of the extra games appear to be catching up with them. Including their forfeit win over the A’s — originally a 7-5 loss — they also dropped three out of five games in an exhibition tournament in Kamloops on the weekend.
“We had a lot of baseball and we’ve got some guys away on vacation, so it will be good to get those guys back that are rested and ready to go for the playoffs,” said Bailey, noting starters Jason Chatwood, Mike Ronnie and Sean MaGuire were all away on Tuesday.
Against the Tigers, they got off to a slow start, falling behind 3-0 through two-and-a-half innings. But they managed to tie the game in the bottom of the third with a little help. Tigers shortstop Josh Kennedy committed throwing errors on back-to-back plays and the Riggers cashed in two of their three runs.
Wyle Cunningham replaced Drew Boyer on the mound for Red Deer in the top of the fifth, and after he let his first two batters get on base he shut down St. Albert for the next four innings.
He finished by allowing no runs on four hits and two walks with three strike outs.
Joel Peterman closed out the game for Red Deer, allowing one earned run on one hit and two walks and a strike out.
Red Deer took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, opening with three straight hits, capped by a Shayne Court RBI single. Josh Edwards later cashed in Kerry Boon with a sacrifice fly to put Red Deer up 5-3.
They added two more in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the game away.
Boon ended the game with two singles, and a triple and one RBI, Kevin Curran had two singles and an RBI, Reign Letkeman had a double and a single, Court had a single, a sac fly and an RBI, and Josh Edwards had a sac fly, a double and two RBIs.
Darren Adams pitched 7 2/3 innings for St. Albert, giving up seven runs, five earned, on 11 hits with two strikeouts.
The Riggers now prepare for their best-of-three semifinal, which starts on Tuesday, likely against the Tigers at Great Chief Park.
But they are also keeping a wary eye on nationals — which they qualified for last year by winning the Sunburst and provincial senior AAA championship — at the end of August.
“We don’t want to burn anyone out right now, some guys have played in all of the games … and that’s tough on the body,” said Bailey. “We don’t want to overdo it but at the same time we want to keep players from going through the motions and stay sharp.”