Smarter and more selective.
That pretty much describes the Red Deer Riggers’ approach at the plate this season.
“I think it’s the confidence of our offence. We’ve had much betters at-bats this year,” playing coach Curtis Bailey said Tuesday, following a 9-1, eight-inning, mercy-rule win over the St. Albert Tigers at Great Chief Park that ran the Riggers’ Sunburst Baseball League record to 7-0.
“Guys have been taking better swings. Not that they get a hit every time, but they’ll take pitches to get a walk, they’ll swing at much better pitches than was the case early last year when they were chasing pitches.
“Maybe that’s part of it.”
Bailey was a big part of the offence Tuesday, stroking a two-run double. Jordan Weinkauf also doubled home two runs, while Jared Chatwood contributed a single and triple, Jason Chatwood cracked a double and Kerry Boon, Mike Ronnie and Kevin Curran, with the clinching single in the bottom of the eighth, each knocked in a run.
Josh Edwards started on the Riggers mound but was pulled after one inning due to soreness in his elbow.
“Hopefully it’s nothing too serious,” said Bailey, adding that the move was precautionary. “We have a lot of season left and a lot of arms. We don’t have to push him.”
The Riggers got a splendid performance from veteran Davin Gulbransen, who gave up just three hits — and a single run in the seventh inning — the rest of the way.
“He hasn’t thrown his 200 innings this year like he did with the (defunct Red Deer) Stags, so his arm should be well-rested,” joked Bailey. “He managed his pitches tonight and threw some off-speed stuff. He got squeezed a bit in the stroke zone, but he threw a lot of strikes.”
The Riggers, who return to action Friday versus the host Parkland White Sox, collected 14 hits off Tigers pitchers Andrew Pierce, Darren Adams, Ben Kennedy and Kyle Hesse, and basically nailed down the victory with a five-run fifth inning.
Now that they’re out of the gate with a bang, the Riggers’ goal is to keep their foot on the pedal right through to the Canadians senior men’s championship in Newfoundland in August. Red Deer will represent Alberta at the nationals after capturing the 2013 provincial title.
“We just want to keep rolling,” said Bailey. “Our goal is to maintain our consistency and continue to get better throughout the summer.”
The Riggers’ next home game is June 24 versus the Fort Saskatchewan A’s.