Riggers 8, Athletics 6
The Red Deer Riggers smallest player brought the biggest bat to Game 1 of the Sunburst Baseball League Final.
Jason Chatwood slugged two solo home runs to left field to lead the Riggers past the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics 8-6 on Sunday evening at Great Chief Park. Game 2 of the best-of-five series goes Monday in Red Deer at 7:30 p.m.
The Riggers’ star shortstop opened the scoring in the third inning, taking a Conor Whitley fastball over the fence. He came back up to bat in the fourth inning and hit another fastball to about the exact same spot. His brother Jaret Chatwood followed him as the next batter and also went yard to left field.
“College was probably the last time I had a two home runs in a game,” said Jason, who played his junior college at Colby Community College before finishing out his eligibility with two seasons at Gonzaga in 2008-09. “It was cool my brother got one right after me.”
He admits to trying a little to hard in his next at bat for his third home run, getting under the pitch too much and flying out to shallow left field.
It was a big night for the Chatwoods, but not one that surprised head coach Curtis Bailey.
“He’s a great hitter and every once in a while he’ll show his power,” Bailey said. “He usually hits for singles and doubles but every once in a while he’ll run into a few, and his little brother said ‘hey, if you’re going to do it, I’m going to do it too.”
The long ball helped get the Riggers out to a 6-1 lead through five innings, until starting pitcher Wiley Cunningham ran out of steam in the seventh inning.
The A’s got one back in the top half of the inning and got another in the eighth when relief pitcher broke a blister on the thumb on his throwing hand and lost his control.
The Riggers pushed their lead back up to 8-3 in their at-bat in the eighth but Peterman loaded the bases before being pulled in the ninth with one out.
Reign Letkeman replaced Peterman but could not stop the bleeding as three Fort Saskatchewan runners scored on two hits before het got the final two outs.
Cunningham pitched six-plus innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits and five walks with four strike outs. Peterman wen 2 1/3 with four earned runs on four hits and two walks.
“He hasn’t thrown a whole bunch the last month because there’s been delays between games,” said Bailey of his starter, “He found his groove, was a little rusty there at times, but he got the outs when we needed them.”
The important thing for the Riggers is their offence always responded well after the A’s put up any runs.
Jason Chatwood finished with the two home runs, two runs batted in and three runs scored. Jaret Chatwood had one home run, two singles, and an RBI. Mike Ronnie three singles a walk and was hit by a pitch and had one RBI.
Getting the first win in the final is huge for the defending league and provincial champions. The five games will be played in six days, putting pressure on both teams’ pitching staffs.
The Riggers will likely start Drew Boyer Monday .
“Everyone was a little anxious and had some nerves going into it,” said Bailey, who also played centre field and was 2-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and two RBI. “We had to make a statement, we played well all year and we had to come in and play well.”