Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff-Riggers ---Sherwood Park Athletics Dan Zinger was unable to make the catch here as Red Deer Rigger Greg Lebranche steals second base during second inning action at Great Chief Park on Tuesday. Lebranche also stole third base on the same play.

Riggers struggle against Athletics

The Red Deer Riggers found themselves on the rare wrong end of a sound beating on Tuesday night. The club lost 10-4 to the Sherwood Park Athletics in Sunburst Baseball League action at Great Chief Park, their worst defeat in almost two full years, going back to an 8-0 loss to the A’s on July 10, 2013.

The Red Deer Riggers found themselves on the rare wrong end of a sound beating on Tuesday night.

The club lost 10-4 to the Sherwood Park Athletics in Sunburst Baseball League action at Great Chief Park, their worst defeat in almost two full years, going back to an 8-0 loss to the A’s on July 10, 2013.

“We were just flat,” said Riggers player coach Curtis Bailey. “We score in the third and the ninth, that’s not going to win you games.”

Davin Gulbranson took the loss for the Riggers as he struggled early in the contest. He allowed nine runs, six earned on 10 hits, four walks and three strikeouts in six innings of work. Joel Peterman finished out the final three innings, allowing one run in the ninth.

Kiel Vertz was outstanding on the bump for the A’s, scattering seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts over seven innings while allowing two runs, neither of them earned. Dylan Theraux relieved him in the eight inning, but lasted just three outs, walking one batter, hitting another and strikeout out one. Brett Kirkpatrick closed out the game allowing one walk and one hit and two runs on three wild pitches.

The A’s took a 6-0 lead through the top half of the third inning before the Riggers got back into the game.

They scored two runs in the bottom half of the third and loaded the bases with one out, but Greg Lebranche struck out and Mark Fay flew out to centre field to end the rally.

The Riggers never really threatened again.

The A’s added three runs in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.

“We’ve struggled with guys on base,” said Bailey. “We’ve scored probably one run in our first 10 games with two outs, you can’t do that in baseball.”

Kerry Boone led the Riggers at the plate, going 3-for-5 at the plate with a double and two singles and a run scored while Jaret Chatwood was 1-for-2 with a sac fly and an RBI. Curtis Bailey was 0-for-2 with two RBI.

Defensively the Riggers were still mostly sharp as shortstop Jason Chatwood made a couple of highlight reel plays to gun down batters at first while Boone made several big digs at first base.

The Riggers have now lost an uncharacteristic five of their last eight games and had ace pitcher Wylie Cunningham leave the team this week. But Bailey is confident they can turn things around.

“It’s something where we’ve got to sit back and re-evaluate where we are,” said Bailey. “We’ve got to figure something out and each guy’s got to do it. I can’t just go in the clubhouse and tell guys, they know what they need to do. It’s got to be some responsibility on everyone, myself included. If we’re going to be a national championship contender, what are we doing? Because we’re not playing like it at all.”

The Riggers head out on the road this weekend to play the St. Albert Tigers on Friday and the As on Monday.

• The Riggers are hosting Day with the Riggers on Tuesday at Great Chief Park, a free baseball camp geared for kids 9-12 and 13-18, with a hot dog roast. The camp is put on by Sutter Fund and will start at 4:30 p.m. for the younger group with the older group after supper. Though it is free, people are asked to register at riggerscamp@gmail.com.

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