Red Deer Riggers manager Curtis Bailey couldn’t have been happier when Jason Louis decided to join the defending Sunburst Baseball League champions this season.
Bailey indicated he saw Louis last season and liked what he saw in his swing. As well he plays a solid first base, a position he fills with the loss of Matt Fay, who is in Halifax finishing his education.
For Louis it’s an opportunity to play in the top senior league in the province and join the Riggers as they prepare to attend the national championships in St. John’s, N.L., in August.
Louis feels he’s not swinging the bat as well as he can, just yet, but he had a single, a double, a walk and scored twice as the Riggers beat the Edmonton Cubs 15-7 at Great Chief Park Tuesday.
“I have started a little slower than I would have liked, but it’s important to stay aggressive and it will happen,” said Louis, who was born and raised in Hobbema and played most of his minor baseball in Edmonton.
He received a scholarship to the States, playing in junior college in Palm Desert, Calif., before switching to the NCAA Division II at Cal State.
After returning home he played in the North Central senior AA league with Legal and Edmonton, despite living in Red Deer.
He works as a contractor in Edmonton, so it was easy to play in the Capital city and area. This year he met some of the Riggers who suggested he join them.
“It made sense and it works out well in that we play all our road games in Edmonton and area and I can zip out after work. I can also do some work at home so I can be here as well.”
Louis is mainly a first baseman, although he played some outfield in college and pitched in high school.
“But we have a lot of pitching, which is nice as my last team didn’t have enough arms. Overall we have depth at all positions and everyone can swing the bat and we can protect each other.”
The 30-year-old Louis added he has enjoyed getting to play on a regular basis.
“I’m just happy to get the opportunity to step in and be an every day guy.”
The Riggers exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday, with eight of them coming against starter Taylor Thomas, who managed to get one out. Matt Cournaya came on and gave up the final run on a hit and two walks.
The Riggers had seven hits — five of them doubles — and four walks in the inning.
They added a single run in the second off Cournaya.
Matt Davis started for the Riggers and allowed three runs in the fifth, all on a bases loaded triple by Josh Williams after it appeared the Red Deer left-hander had fanned Logan Wedgewood for the final out.
“That’s how it seems to work,” said Bailey, who was pleased with Davis’ effort.
“He threw the ball better than his first outing and had a better arm slot. He also said he felt better.”
Davin Gulbransen came on and gave up three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh. The Riggers added a single run in the second off Cournaya, and got to the third Cubs pitcher — Connor Girard — for two runs in the fifth and seventh innings.
“It’s tough playing a team when you jump into a big lead and then take your foot off the gas,” said Bailey. “Their pitcher slowed the pace down as well and we lost interest. However, when they tried to fight back we also fought back.”
The Riggers got to Austin Penner for a single run in the eighth to put the game away on the mercy rule.
Curtis Mazurkewich had three hits, a walk and three RBIs while Shayne Court had three hits and a pair of runs batted in and Jaret Chatwood added three hits and a walk. Denver Wik had two hits and two walks in four plate appearances and Mike Ronnie had two hits and a walk.
Williams and Dean Olson had three hits each for the Cubs.
The Riggers ran their record to 5-0 and return to action Thursday when they visit the Parkland White Sox. They return home June 10 against the St. Albert Tigers.