Riggers win Sunburst final opener

When Red Deer Riggers manager Curtis Bailey pencilled in Josh Edwards as his starter for the opening game of the best-of-five Sunburst Baseball League and provincial senior AAA championship against the Sherwood Park Athletics he knew exactly what he was doing. Not only is Edwards one of the premier pitchers in the province, but he wasn’t about to let a couple of bad bounces get him down.

Riggers 13 Athletics 7

When Red Deer Riggers manager Curtis Bailey pencilled in Josh Edwards as his starter for the opening game of the best-of-five Sunburst Baseball League and provincial senior AAA championship against the Sherwood Park Athletics he knew exactly what he was doing.

Not only is Edwards one of the premier pitchers in the province, but he wasn’t about to let a couple of bad bounces get him down.

And that’s exactly what happened.

The A’s put together three hits — two of the bloop variety — and scored two runs in the top of the first inning. They added a third run in the second inning once again on a pair of infield singles to grab a 3-1 lead. They led 4-1 in the top of the fourth, before the Riggers bats came alive against A’s starter James Fischer.

“We certainly had some bounces go against us early on, but credit to our guys for sticking with it and battling back,” said Bailey.

Edwards agreed.

“We did have some hops go against us early, but it was a matter of continuing to grind, throw strikes and work through it,” he said. “I knew our guys would continue to grind as well and with those guys hitting behind me I knew I could give up a couple and we’d get those back.”

The Riggers, who scored once in the bottom of the first, added two runs in the fourth on singles by Joel Mazurkewich and Kevin Curran, then added five runs in the fifth with Denver Wik’s three-run double the key blow.

The Riggers added two runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and two in the eighth on Shayne Court’s single.

The A’s got to Edwards for two runs in the seventh, as he appeared to be tiring in the heat.

“It was hot out there,” he said. “I like the heat, but I was getting sweaty.”

But Edwards did what he had to do, said Bailey.

“Eddy threw a great game. He didn’t let the start bother him and he was consistently around the plate and really there weren’t any balls hit hard off him. He’s a competitor and it’s hard to take him out at any time, but you could tell the heat was getting to him near the end.”

Joel Peterman came on and went the final two innings. He struggled a bit in the ninth, allowing a run after loading the bases with one away. However he had a seven-run lead going into the frame and worked his way out of it, allowing only a sacrifice fly.

The win was big for the Riggers, who host the second game of the series tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.

“That first game is big, especially when you have two games at home to open the series,” said Bailey. “The system (two-two-one) is the same as last year. There are pros and cons, but it gives us a bit of advantage, playing at home and not travelling in the heat.”

The third and fourth games, if necessary, go Wednesday and Thursday in Sherwood Park with the fifth, if needed, Friday at Great Chief Park.

One of the surprises in the game was starting rookie Joel Mazurkewich in right field.

But the youngster finished with two hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly.

“It’s at the time of the season where we need our role players to step in and we were looking for Joel to bunt, but he came through with a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly when we needed it. As well at the end we had three of our younger guys in the outfield and they give us a lot of speed and cover a lot of ground.”

Mazurkewich, Mark Fay and Court were in the outfield over the final two innings.

Bailey started in centre and finished with three hits and a walk and scored three times. Jaret Chatwood added a single, a triple and a walk while Weinkauf had a pair of hits and a walk. Jason Chatwood, was hit by a pitch, walked, singled and reached on an error while Curran had a single, two walks and also reached on an error.

Lance Romanchuk, who the Riggers have added for the nationals, had three hits for the A’s. Fischer, who is also going to the nationals, worked into the fifth inning, allowing eight runs on seven hits and five walks.

“I do believe the heat got to him.” said Bailey.

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