It’s been a disappointing start to the Sunburst Baseball League season for the Red Deer Stags and Thursday was a good indicate why.
The Stags were missing a number of their regular starters, and were forced to use three pitchers in the field, as they dropped an 11-0 decision to the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics at Great Chief Park.
“We just haven’t had the commitment we need,” said Stags comanager Davin Gulbransen. “It seems like every game we’re missing two or three of our regular starters. Look at tonight. (James) Fischer threw a great game, but with three pitchers hitting we’d get one or two of our regular guys on and we couldn’t get them in.”
The Stags finished with six hits against Fischer, who went the distance.
On the other side Jordan Ostrov started and worked eight innings, allowing six runs — four of them on two two-run home runs by Tom Muhlethaler.
“I thought Jordan battled his ass off,” said Gulbransen. “That was their full provincial championship team and he made two mistakes. He hasn’t pitched in a couple of years so it’s taken him some time to get back in it and he’s getting there.
“I really like what he did tonight.”
The A’s grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning on Muhlethaler’s first blast, made it 3-0 in the sixth, then got two more runs in the seventh thanks to Muhlethaler and one in the eighth. James Carr came on in the ninth and was touched up for five runs.
The loss left the Stags with a 2-9 record while the first-place A’s are 9-3.
The Parkland White Sox and Red Deer Riggers are 7-3.
The Stags are in a battle with the 2-8 St. Albert Tigers for the fourth and final playoff spot.
This year the league playoffs also determine the provincial champions.
“We still have a ways to go . . . we’re not out of it, but we need to get everyone out and playing like we can,” said Gulbransen.
The Stags have a big game tonight as they visit the Tigers, who they lost 9-1 to on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Riggers are in the Kamloops International Baseball Tournament and opened play Thursday with a 3-1 win over the Northwest Honkers.
Left-hander Brant Stickel went the distance for the victory.
The Riggers clash with Everett, Wash., this morning and Kamloops Saturday morning.
The next action at Great Chief Park is the Riggers tournament, July 20-22.