Mason Love-Hollman is still sometimes in shock at his good fortune.
The 19-year-old hit leadoff and played second base Tuesday for the Red Deer Riggers, a team he grew up idolizing.
“All the time, I remember when they used to charge five bucks and I’d go do bottles and come watch the Riggers game, watch Jason and Jaret (Chatwood) play, those were good times,” he said following a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Cubs at Great Chief Park.
“It’s an honour to be in the starting lineup and to be hitting with these guys, it’s awesome.”
Love-Hollman, like many baseball players in Canada, is still trying to find his stride after nearly a year and a half away from the game.
Without a Red Deer U18AAA season last year, the teen was just hoping for an opportunity to keep playing and he’s embracing the challenge of the Sunburst Baseball League – one that typically caters to players coming back from college or older players that have played at a high level.
Even so, Love-Hollman had an infield hit and several nice plays in the field for the Riggers Tuesday.
“It’s pretty cool, all these guys are quite experienced and it’s nice to be out again after the year and a half drought with COVID and everything, happy to be here,” said the 19-year-old, who is looking at opportunities next fall with the Prairie Baseball Academy in Lethbridge or the University of Calgary Dinos.
“Last year (of baseball) was midget AAA here in Red Deer and that was two years ago, still getting the rust off. I think we’ll be good by the end of the year.”
Love-Hollman isn’t the only youngster contributing to the Riggers’ roster, as lefty Rees DeRuyter started the game Tuesday and allowed just one run before being lifted for Brett Porter, another talented young hurler. Carter Claerhout, 19, also hit the field for Red Deer Tuesday.
All those up-and-comers faced a tough test against the Cubs, as Tony Olson allowed just six hits over a seven-inning complete game. Olson also contributed offensively, with a home run and RBI single in the fifth inning.
Catcher Marc Claussen knocked in the only run for the home side.
Edmonton also beat the Riggers 10-2 on Monday.
The Riggers (1-3) will host the St. Albert Tigers on June 29, with first pitch set for 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.