The Red Deer Riggers have won national and provincial titles, but never before have they been perfect through 14 games Sunburst Baseball League games.
That all changed on Tuesday night as they beat the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics 7-3 at Great Chief Park in Red Deer.
Davin Gulbransen pitched six innings for the win, surrendering one unearned run on three hits and two walks while striking out one for the win.
“It just shows the balance that this team has — offensively, defensively, pitching — there’s really no aspect of the game where we feel we don’t compete with or beat teams in,” said Riggers coach Jordan Weinkauf, who was filling in for regular coach Curtis Bailey who was away for work. “Every now and then you get a bad bounce or you run into a hot pitcher, but we’ve been able to avoid it by just maintaining level heads and having good at bats and winning individual battles. The pitchers come to the park and do a good job and make it pretty easy to play.”
Riggers shortstop Jason Chatwood made a couple nice plays, including starting a highlight reel double play in the seventh inning to stop a Fort Saskatchewan rally, he added two singles at the plate to cap a pretty good 27th birthday.
“We finished off the day with a win, you couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said.
Weinkauf says their success this season is due to their balance and depth, they do not really have any major weaknesses.
Still, Chatwood says the Riggers still have room for improvement as they head towards the senior AAA national championships after winning last year’s provincial banner. A scary thought for the rest of the Sunburst league.
“There’s a few times where we’ve let teams off the hook. A couple of times tonight we’ve had guys on in scoring position and we just give a couple away,” he said.
“But it’s still early, its still June and we have a long ways to go. I think we’re just going to keep improving from here.”
The Riggers scored all seven of their runs in two innings, two in the second inning and five in the fourth — both times Jaret Chatwood started it off with lead off doubles and scoring later. Mark Fay added a double and a single, Kerry Boon had two singles and Kevin Curran reached twice on a walk and a hit by pitch, scoring both times.
Curtis Mazurkewich also had a double for the Riggers.
Cory Kokotailio took the loss for the A’s giving up seven earned runs on seven hits one walk and three hit batters in four innings.
Up next for the Riggers is a showdown with the Confederation Cubs at Great Chief Park on Canada Day at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES — The Riggers honoured recently retired Red Deer Advocate sports reporter Danny Rode in a pre-game ceremony for his many years of coverage of the club.