Riggers fighting for playoffs

The Red Deer Riggers split Day 2 at the senior baseball national championships, but with a 2-1 record are still in a strong position to make the playoff round.

B.C. 8 Riggers 4

Riggers 9 Halifax 4

DARTMOUTH, N.S. — The Red Deer Riggers split Day 2 at the senior baseball national championships, but with a 2-1 record are still in a strong position to make the playoff round.

“Right now we’re in a position where we have a legitimate shot at getting into the next round, into the quarter-final,” said Riggers president and general manager Dwayne Lalor.

“Really we need to go out and beat New Brunswick and that gets us in for sure — 2-2 might not get you in is kind of where it sits.”

The Riggers dropped their first game of the day 8-4 to B.C. but bounced back to Halifax 9-4 in their afternoon tilt.

Matt Davis picked up the win for the Riggers, going five innings while surrendering all four runs, three earned, while scattering seven hits and one walk with three strike outs. Jeff Hall — a pick up from Calgary — cleaned things up, striking out three over the final two scoreless innings, issuing just one free pass in the process.

“It was Matt Davis’ first pitching appearance in the national championships at the men’s level and he got into the sixth inning. That was nice for us to have him go that far into the ball game,” said Lalor.

The Riggers scored early and often with two runs each in the first and second innings, three in the fifth and then single runs in the final two stanzas.

Matt Fay set up much of that offence going two-for- four at the plate with a stolen base and scored three times.Meanwhile Delton Kruk was two-for-three with a double, two runs batted in and two runs scored.

Jason Chatwood was also two-for-three with two RBIs, Curtis Bailey was one-for-three with two RBIs and Mike Ronnie went hitless in three at-bats, but still managed two RBIs on a Halifax error. Kerry Boon accounted for the other RBI on a double.

Mark Haverstock went four and two third innings for Halifax, giving up seven runs, five of them earned, on seven hits and two walks while striking out one in the loss.

The game was a big response to their morning duldrums in their loss to B.C.

“We got it going right away and we just played better longer than they did,” said Lalor.

Earlier in the day, James Dykstra was roughed up by a B.C. squad made up of mainly of players from the lower mainland. Dykstra was touched for seven runs on eight hits over four and one-third innings ­— fanning two batters and walking four in the process — before being replaced by Davin Gulbransen.

Gulbransen, in return, was replaced by Colin Hodgson after giving up one run on two hits through the remainder of the fifth frame, in which the winners scored five runs. Hodgson recorded one strikeout and issued one walk, but didn’t allow a single hit while working the final two innings.

Jason Chatwood cracked a home run and had two RBI in a losing cause, while Kerry Boon had two hits, including a double, and Jared Chatwood stroked an RBI double. Mike Ronnie contributed two hits and drove in a run.

Tim Fehr worked all seven innings on the B.C. mound, allowing 11 hits while fanning four batters and walking none. Corey Stang, Kevin Atkinson and Cody Valgardson each slugged a home run for the winners, with Atkinson driving in four runs and Stang finished with three RBI.

But this game was decided in the fifth inning. The Riggers failed to score with the bases loaded and none out in the bottom of the fourth inning — line out to the pitcher followed by two strike outs — and B.C. struck for six runs in the top half of the fifth.

“We missed on an opportunity to score and it came back to bite us,” said Lalor. “When you load the bases with none, you expect you’re going to get at least one (run), and we didn’t. Then whether it’s an emotional let down, or (B.C.) gets excited, or bad timing but they came back with six runs . . . and that put us in a pretty big hole at that point, that put us down 8-0.”

The Riggers now play Fredericton, N.B., today at 9 a.m. MST. If the Riggers win they could take first place in their pool, if they lose they will be in a dogfight to make the playoffs. Fredericton and B.C. are also sitting at 2-1.

“We’ll have to get out there and get after it and get ourselves into a quarter-final or the semifinal,” said Lalor, noting the top team in each pool gets a bye to the semis. “In a perfect world we bet them and then B.C. happens to lose one tomorrow then we get in as the first place team. There could be a team sitting there with two wins who does not make it into the playoff round — it’s nice to be at two (wins) but you want to get to three . . . You don’t want to leave it in the hands of the mathematicians.”

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