The Red Deer Riggers closed out a narrow win in spectacular fashion at Great Chief Park Tuesday night.
They topped the Sherwood Park Athletics 3-2 to even the best-of-five Sunburst Senior AAA League final series at one game a piece.
Sherwood Park had the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning with only one out and the tying run on third, before a shallow fly ball took flight towards Derek Chapman.
The Riggers right fielder corralled the fly ball for the second out of the inning and then fired a strike to catcher Curtis Mazurkewich to get the tagging Athletics’ runner at home to end the game.
“That was unbelievable. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him do that. It was awesome,” starting pitcher Josh Edwards said.
Edwards tossed a masterful seven and two thirds innings to earn the win and only allowed two earned runs on nine hits while striking out seven Sherwood Park batters.
“Coming out in the first couple innings and attacking the zone, getting ahead of guys and really just battling through. It was one of those games where we just had to battle every inning and every at bat,” he said. “I’m one of those guys, I don’t like coming out of the game so it’s fun to push yourself to that point and see how far you can go.”
The Riggers left-handed starter also had the special honour of starting the game Monday night, only for it to be suspended by rain in the first inning until Tuesday and then had to come back out and pitch again. He finished with a combined 126 pitches.
“It was a little different. It’s not the first time I’ve had to do that. I had a little bit of experience… I didn’t feel too bad. I felt a little lackadaisical coming to the ballpark, but not too bad,” Edwards said.
The Athletics opened the scoring in the first after they cashed in one of their leftover runners from the suspended first inning. Joel Mazurkewich tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff solo home run.
It was a tie game until the Riggers broke out for two runs in the bottom of the sixth, with a Jaret Chatwood RBI single followed by Denver Wik doing the same.
In the top of the seventh Sherwood Park scored to make it a 3-2 game.
Pitcher Joel Peterman got one out in a bases loaded situation for the Riggers in the eighth inning and JP Wilner battled through the ninth inning on the mound to earn the save.
Throughout the night both teams played stellar defence, something Edwards said was a huge reason he lasted as long as he did.
“Give it to those guys. That game doesn’t happen with those guys making plays. Like Jaret (Chatwood) diving to make a play at third to save a run. There were a couple really big plays behind me,” he said.
“That’s one thing we’ve been really good at. I work quick and the guys like playing behind me and they get tons of outs.”
Game 3 and 4 will be Wednesday and Thursday in Sherwood Park with Game 5 if needed back in Red Deer Friday.