The Red Deer Riggers slogged through their Sunburst Baseball League home opener Tuesday night and earned a tough 8-7 win over the St Albert Tigers.
Rain soaked the field at Great Chief Park from first pitch through most of the evening and slowed the game to a crawl at points. Typically a nine inning game, the umpires made a decision to call the game with the Riggers leading in the home half of the eighth inning.
“Sloppy on both ends. It’s May and not being outside much probably showed,” said Riggers shortstop and coach Jason Chatwood.
“It’s early and the hard thing is were all competitive. You expect results right away and you forget we’ve only been outside four or five times. It’s the second game. You can’t expect the results you want right off the bat… it’s still a win. We did some good things and we battled.”
Red Deer closed two-run gaps at several points in the game, including when they fell behind two runs early and later in the seventh inning.
“A lot of our maturity and experience shows in those situations, where we don’t get too up or too down. We just play it out,” Chatwood said.
“We got a couple chances where we put the ball in play and fortunate plays went our way. Sloppy, long game.”
Davin Gulbransen tossed three strong innings of relief to earn the win on the mound for Red Deer.
Tigers’ Evan Hoffman opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run home run and the Riggers left the bases loaded in the bottom half.
Wylie Cunningham struggled on the mound for the Riggers in the third inning when he walked three straight batters, and four total in the inning. The Tigers cashed three runs in the frame.
Jason Louis and Jaret Chatwood both knocked RBI singles in the bottom of the third for the Riggers and Denver Wik tied the game at five in the bottom of the fifth.
Tigers shortstop Jessey Beley mashed a monster home run to left field in the top of the seventh to regain a 7-5 advantage for the visitors.
In the bottom half of the frame, Riggers first baseman Levi Moon cashed a pair of runners with a seeing eye single that got past the Tigers first baseman. St. Albert made three errors that allowed Red Deer to pull ahead 8-7.
Overall, Chatwood said they have lots to work on before the next time out on June 4 when they head to Edmonton to take on the Confederation Park Cubs.
“First two games are almost like spring training,” Chatwood added.
“Sunburst baseball I guess, you never know what to expect. Guys are just getting ready and trying to get some reps. It’s more so just seeing some pitches and getting some reps. Just have to be paitent and when you get into June and July, that’s when it really matters.”