Marchand at home with Stags

Chad Marchand’s link to the defunct junior version of the Red Deer Stags landed him with the senior team for the 2009 Sunburst Baseball League season.

St. Albert Tabbies catcher Kieth Wedgwood slides under the tag of Red Deer Stag shortstop Byron Whitford at second base on Thursday. The Stags still won 3-1.

Stags 3 Tabbies 1

Chad Marchand’s link to the defunct junior version of the Red Deer Stags landed him with the senior team for the 2009 Sunburst Baseball League season.

The Fort McMurray native played for coach Greg Tisdale’s Junior Stags in the late ‘90s and participated in a national championship with the Red Deer team. He bumped into Tisdale at a soccer centre in Edmonton recently and mentioned that he was itching to return to competitive baseball after a three-year layoff.

Tisdale, who still has ties with the senior Stags, said the club would be interested in attaining his services and the rest is recent history.

“Greg Tisdale is just a great guy. For me being away from my family so much, I always looked at him as kind of a father figure,” Marchand, 29, said Thursday after turning in a nifty two-inning stint on the Stags’ mound and closing out a 3-1 win over the St. Albert Tabbies at Great Chief Park.

Marchand attended the Prairie Baseball Academy in Lethbridge during his junior years and was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 48th round of the 1998 major league amateur draft. He never played pro ball, however, and within a few years was pitching for the St. Albert Tigers, helping the club win a Canadian senior men’s title in 2002.

He’s been to seven national championship tournaments in total, including three with his midget team in Fort McMurray and also as a pick-up with the senior Red Deer Riggers.

A former outfielder who was scouted by the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies while playing midget ball in his hometown, Marchand hung up his glove three years ago and last summer got back into the game as a coach/manager with a Little League all-star team in Edmonton, where he works as a utilities surveyor.

“But I didn’t throw a ball until this year,” he said. “I got back into pitching this year a little at a time and the arm is starting to come around now.

“It really does feels great to be back. I had a strong feeling that I wanted to play again, that I didn’t want to walk away from the game for good.”

The Stags are certainly glad to have him aboard.

“He gets it. He has a lot of experience and he really understands the mental aspect of the game,” said co-coach Davin Gulbransen. “Chad is a nice addition to our team.”

Gulbransen posted the win Thursday, working the fist three innings before handing the ball to Nick Ryan, who along with Travis Guynup and Marchand, each pitched two innings. The foursome gave up only five hits while recording 10 strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Stags collected nine hits off three Tabbies pitchers, with Byron Whitford going three-for-four at the plate with two doubles, and Richard Northcott contributing a two-for-four offensive performance with a double and two RBIs. Co-coach Dan Zinger got credit for the other RBI when he drew a bases-loaded walk.

The Stags are competing in the St. Albert Tigers tournament this weekend, taking on the host team tonight.

The Stags return to Sunburst League action Tuesday against the host Edmonton Rockies, and host the Red Deer Riggers two nights later at Great Chief Park.

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