The Sherwood Park Athletics celebrate a four-run outburst in the second inning against the Red Deer Riggers in game 2 of the best-of-three Sunburst Baseball League semifinal series. Sherwood Park won the game 6-1 at Great Chief Park and picked up the series victory. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Athletics eliminate Riggers from Sunburst Baseball League playoffs

Athletics 6 Riggers 1

(Sherwood Park wins best-of-three series 2-0)

The Red Deer Riggers bats fell silent when they were needed most.

After just three hits in Game 1 of the best-of-three Sunburst Baseball League semifinal against the Sherwood Park Athletics, the Riggers’ bats struggled again in Game 2.

Red Deer managed just four hits off Matt Hammond over six innings and picked up three in the seventh off James Fischer.

The Athletics carried and 18-inning shutout streak into the seventh inning against the Riggers, dating back to the Riggers tournament before the long weekend.

In the end Thursday, Sherwood Park picked up a 6-1 victory and advanced to the league final.

“It’s that time of year. We’ve got the arms and we’ve got the bats. Our top four guys in our lineup are as big a threat as anyone, especially with their speed,” said Hammond, who struck out seven and only walked two in a dominant outing.

“They consistently put up runs and RBI and the bottom of the order gets guys in and picks things up, too. Just play as a team, it’s great.”

Riggers shortstop Jaret Chatwood said it was a tough week for the club, and a rough way to see the season come to an end.

“The goal always to win and when you don’t do that, it makes it tough. Especially in the first round,” Chatwood said.

“We finished second above these guys and came out flat. They threw two pretty good arms at us, and we couldn’t get the hits when we needed them.”

The second inning was where the Athletics did most of their damage. Tate Yozda had a loud RBI double and Braydon Cust followed it up with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 early. Rejean Bourget added a two-RBI single to extend the advantage.

That was all Hammond needed, keeping the Riggers off-balance the rest of the way. He said it was when he started to locate the curveball that things started to really roll.

“Finding my curveball in the middle of the game. I only had my fastball and cutter at the beginning. I knew I was going to need my curveball. Found that in the middle and that got me through the third and fourth, rolled from there,” he said.

Jason Louis knocked in the only Riggers run in the seventh inning with an RBI single. He had two hits on the night. Joel Peterman pitched three innings for the Riggers and allowed four runs on six hits while striking out three. Davin Gulbransen through four innings and allowed four hits and two runs with two strikeouts.

Sherwood Park will square off against the Edmonton Confederation Park Cubs in the final. The Cubs edged the St. Albert Tigers in Game 3 of their series Thursday night to advance.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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