Redbirds edge Stags

One more timely hit and the Red Deer Stags would have celebrated their first win of the 2010 Sunburst Baseball League season Thursday night at Great Chief Park.

Red Deer Stagg James Carr pitches to the Calgary Redbirds during Sunburst Baseball League action at Great Chief Park on Thursday. The Redbirds won 8-7.

Red Deer Stagg James Carr pitches to the Calgary Redbirds during Sunburst Baseball League action at Great Chief Park on Thursday. The Redbirds won 8-7.

Redbirds 8 Stags 7

One more timely hit and the Red Deer Stags would have celebrated their first win of the 2010 Sunburst Baseball League season Thursday night at Great Chief Park.

But the Stags left the bases loaded in the ninth inning and suffered an 8-7 loss to the Calgary Redbirds.

“We kept fighting back and it would have been nice to have a hit in that last inning,” said Stags playing coach Shaun Connor, whose team stayed close with two runs in each of the sixth and eighth innings.

James Carr started on the Stags’ mound and worked five full innings. Nick Ryan gave up two runs in the sixth frame and Travis Guynup pitched the seventh before handing the ball to Aaron Tweet with two on and none out in the eighth.

The Redbirds plated two runs in the inning — both charged to Guynup — and then added an insurance — and the eventual winning — run in the ninth.

“Aaron was his usual solid self,” said Connor. “It was nice to see him come in and shut the door like that and give us a chance to be in the ball game. We still have to lighten up on the walks a bit, but our guys did a nice job of making their pitchers work as well. We also got a lot of walks, and the more base runners the better.”

Jordan Reiter led the Stags offensively with two singles and a run-scoring double. Dan Zinger also drove in a run and Adam Eisenbirth stroked a pair of singles.

The Redbirds used three pitchers, including starter Tom Gayef.

The Stags fell to 0-3 with the loss, but Connor isn’t worried.

“It’s still early. We’re carrying 22 to 23 guys which makes us fairly deep. Some of them are younger guys and it’s nice to get them some early licks to see where they stand,” he said.

“That being said, we still need to sharpen up some of the pitching and eliminate some of the walks. We can’t let the big innings happen. We were probably lucky tonight to give up no more than two runs in an inning. The problems usually start with lead-off walks.”

With games Saturday and Sunday versus the Fort Saskatchewan A’s and Red Deer Riggers at Great Chief, Connor is confident his team will enjoy a positive result sooner than later.

“Being this early in the season, I’m not too concerned with the outcome, but more the process and the performance,” he said.

“We rolled through 19 guys on the roster today and it’s nice to have that depth and to be able to move guys around and juggle the lineup like we did.”

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com