The Red Deer Riggers can forget about a perfect season in the Sunburst Baseball League.
But their 6-4 loss to the Sherwood Park Athletics at Great Chief Park Tuesday isn’t something that will worry them for long, if at all,.
“It’s one of those things … it happens,” said Riggers playing manager Jason Chatwood. “An undefeated season would have been nice, but it isn’t what we’re focused on. It’s the end goal.”
The Riggers led 1-0 in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Jason Louis, but overall had problems with A’s starter Kiel Vertz, who tossed six innings of six-hit ball, allowing a pair of runs.
Vertz doesn’t have the same fastball he used to possess, but knows how to pitch.
“He hit his spots with multiple pitches, with different speeds and we got away from our approach,” said Chatwood. “He’s a guy who can make you do that. We rolled over on a lot of ground balls. He made it tough for us.”
The A’s got to Riggers starter Tyler Vavra, who lives in Calgary, for a pair of runs in the second inning, an unearned run in the fourth and three runs — one earned — in the sixth.
Tyler is solid and has been in all his starts,” said Chatwood. “He battles hard, even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, and gives us a chance to win.
“We gave them a few too many extra outs and they took advantage of them. Plus we didn’t get anything going offensively. We had some guys on base but didn’t capitalize.”
The Riggers left seven men on base against Vertz and four against reliever James Fisher, who throws considerably harder than Vertz.
“We actually swung the bats well against James. I think we don’t have time to think, just react. We scored twice in that last innings against him and had the tying run on base, we just didn’t get the one more hit … things sometimes just don’t go your way,” added Chatwood.
Chad Price, who pitched for Acme last year and now lives in Penhold, replaced Vavra in the sixth with one away and two on. He allowed a sacrifice fly before getting out of the jam. He put himself in another jam in the seventh with a hit and two walks to load the bases with one away before tossing a double play ball. He put together a one-two-three eighth inning with Drew Boyer retiring the side in the ninth.
The loss left the Riggers with an 11-1 record while the A’s sit at 7-3.
“If we win 11 of 12 we can’t complain,” said Chatwood, who had three hits and had a fourth taken away by a brilliant diving catch by centre-fielder Mark Kuzyk.
Chatwood leads the SBL with a .571 batting average and 24 hits and 20 runs. JP Wilner, Louis, Jaret Chatwood and Josh Edwards added two hits apiece.
Cole Schneider and Lance Romanchuk had two hits each for the A’s.
The Riggers return to action next Tuesday when they host the St. Albert Tigers at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog.