Riggers 11 Redbirds 8
Chad Northcott has been a perfect addition to the Red Deer Riggers roster.
The 19-year-old from Rocky Mountain House has the versatility to play all four infield positions and is solid at the plate.
Northcott, whose father Harold played with the Riggers up to 1995, showed his skill Thursday as the Riggers took an 11-8 victory from the Calgary Redbirds in Sunburst Baseball League play at Great Chief Park.
At the plate Northcott had a pair of hits, was hit once and reached on errors twice while at second base he made all the plays, including an outstanding running catch on a shallow fly ball behind first base.
“He can play wherever we ask, and probably could play the outfield if we needed him to,” said Riggers manager Curtis Bailey.
Northcott, who attends Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa, doesn’t mind moving around.
“At school I started at third base in the fall and played some shortstop and second,” he explained. “In the spring they moved me to second full time. It really doesn’t matter where I play.”
Northcott, who batted 303. with 99 plate appearances at Indian Hills, played minor ball in Rocky before moving to the Vauxhall Baseball Academy in Grade 11. He also played summer ball with the Lethbridge Elks of the American Legion league in Grade 11 and 12 before moving to Centerville.
This summer he was looking for another challenge and was pleased when Bailey came calling.
“Curtis contacted by dad and then contacted me about coming here and it was a good fit,” he said. “It’s a good league with some excellent pitching and teams. We also have a young team and we get a chance to grow together. As well I get a chance to work and make some money before I go back to school.”
Northcott has one year remaining at Indian Hills before he needs to find a four-year school.
“No one has contacted me yet, but hopefully that will come,” he added.
The Indian Hills squad has a solid program and they missed going to the junior college World Series by one game.
“We were right there and should have a better team next year,” he said.
The Riggers, who posted a 1-2 record in the Kamloops tournament during the weekend, started strong and led 8-0 after six innings. However the Redbirds got to reliever Aaron Graves for three runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. While all six runs were earned the Riggers didn’t exactly look sharp in the field.
“We needed to be sharper as well Aaron hasn’t pitched much this year,” said Bailey.”But we’ll need him down the stretch, so it was good that he got to throw some.”
The Redbirds added a pair of runs off Dwayne Lalor in the ninth. The first a mammoth home run by Mike Schlekewy and the second following an error.
The Riggers did manage 15 hits and took advantage of some poor Calgary defence which committed five errors. One of the biggest errors came in the bottom of the eighth when pitcher Tyler Vavra threw Northcott’s come-backer over first base, allowing two runs to score and give the Riggers a little more breathing room.
“The first six innings we played well, there wasn’t a hangover from Kamloops, then we let down,” said Bailey. “Even in the dugout it was lighthearted and we need to make sure we stay focused, especially at this time of the season.”
James Dykstra started on the mound for the Riggers and pitched five innings of four-hit ball while striking out five. Graves, who pitched three innings, led the offence with three hits and four RBIs while Lalor and Matt Fay added two hits each and Jason Chatwood had a single and three walks. Blake Carruthers had three hits for the Redbirds.
• Riggers have a number of walking wounded with Mike Ronnie (wrist) and Jordan Weinkauf (ankle) out and Fay and Bailey both have leg problems. They were also missing Kerry Boon (illness) . . . Riggers play at St. Albert against the Tigers Thursday, then will attempt the get their five rained out games in before the playoffs . . . Riggers tournament is July 24-26.