College has been good to Chatwood

Jason Chatwood is glad to be back with the Red Deer Riggers, but he wouldn’t have minded if it was a bit later in the season.

Red Deer Rigger Jason Chatwood scores by beating the throw to Red Deer Stag catcher Dan Zinger in Sunburst baseball action at Great Chief park Tuesday.

Riggers 5 Stags 2

Jason Chatwood is glad to be back with the Red Deer Riggers, but he wouldn’t have minded if it was a bit later in the season.

Chatwood joined the Riggers late last week after completing his senior year with the Gonzaga University Bulldogs, whose season came to an end at the NCAA regional championships, posting a 1-2 record.

The University of Fullerton won the regional title and advanced to the College World Series.

“We gave them their toughest test . . . we were right there, but just not enough,” said Chatwood following the Riggers entertaining 5-2 victory over the Red Deer Stags in Sunburst Baseball League play at Great Chief Park Tuesday.

Chatwood isn’t finished at Gonzaga — he will return to finish his education next season and help coach the Bulldogs — but his playing days are over.

The talented infielder played two years at Colby College in Kansas before transferring to Gonzaga.

“Transferring was one of the best decisions I made, not only for baseball, but for school as well,” he said. “In fact It was a great experience, all four years. I got a chance to play every game. It’s hard to believe it’s over.”

His senior year saw him get off to a slow start, but he picked it up in the second half and was one of the team’s top hitters in the playoffs.

“It was good, plus winning the conference championship was a nice way to finish.”

There is still a possibility Chatwood will be selected in the Major League draft, which began Friday, but he’s not thinking about that.

“If it happens it’ll just be a bonus,” he said.

Chatwood returned to the Riggers this season after being away for most of the last two years. Two years ago he played summer ball in Washington and last year was with Saskatoon in the Western Major Baseball League.

“Good experiences,” he said. “It was something different. Now I’m back here and looking forward to it. We have a really good group of guys and it’s a good atmosphere.”

Chatwood brings added depth to the Riggers roster, both at the plate and in the field.

Tuesday he contributed an RBI single in the Riggers four-run first inning, but left everyone talking following a spectacular defensive play to end the Stags second inning. Chatwood, who was at short, went deep in the hole, to pick up what appeared to be a sure hit by Travis Guynup, jumped and threw at the same time and nipped Guynup at first.

“That was a major league type play,” said Stags manager Dan Zinger. “No matter what team you’re hoping for that was nice to watch.”

Riggers manager Curtis Bailey agreed.

“Guys like Jason come in from college and play a different game. That was some play,” he said.

The Riggers got to Stags starter James Carr for four hits in the opening frame, plus a throwing error, contributed to the Riggers’ quick start.

“If we make the plays that first inning it could have been different,” said Zinger. “But as it was I didn’t think four runs would hold up.”

But Riggers starter James Dykstra and reliever Denver Wik made it stand up.

Dykstra worked six innings of six-hit shutout baseball while fanning six. Wik gave up single runs in the seventh and eighth, before retiring the side in the ninth. He allowed five hits and fanned four.

“James (Dykstra) throws a tough breaking ball and when he throws it for strikes he’s tough,” said Bailey.

“And Denver gives us something we didn’t have last season, someone we can count on to come in later in the game. In fact we have several guys who will do that this season.”

Carr, who didn’t pitch last season, worked four innings, allowing only one hit following the opening frame while striking out five.

Davin Gulbransen went three innings, allowing an unearned run on three hits. Chad Marchand worked a scoreless eighth.

• Matt Fay, Jaret Chatwood and Kerry Boon had two hits each for the Riggers while Nate Benke, Jordan Reiter, Guynup and Jamie Duncan had two hits apiece for the Stags . . . On Thursday Stags host the Edmonton Rockies at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park while the Riggers visit the Calgary Redbirds . . . The Stags host their annual tournament this weekend . . . Riggers open play Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the Redbirds while the Stags face the Calgary Longhorns at 9:30 p.m. . . . On Saturday the Riggers face the Fort Saskatchewan A’s at 4 p.m. and the Stags meet the St. Albert Tigers at 7 p.m. . . . The final is set for 3 p.m. Sunday.

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