Riggers 10 Redbirds 3
The Red Deer Riggers had every reason to be worried heading into the sixth inning of their provincial senior AAA baseball playoff game against the Calgary Redbirds at Great Chief Park Thursday.
The Riggers were coming off a 15-3 loss to the Red Deer Stags and found themselves tied 2-2 with the Redbirds after five innings.
What made matters even worse was that they had only two hits off Calgary starter Tyler Vavra, both of those by Delton Kruk.
But the Riggers exploded for six runs in the sixth and added a pair in the seventh to record a 10-3 victory.
“We started out flat once again, which has been a problem of late, but we persevered and didn’t panic when we made some early errors and weren’t hitting,” said Kruk. “The kids, along with the veterans, kept at it and we finally got things going our way.”
Vavra started to tire and he walked three and hit a batter to go with three Red Deer hits in the sixth.
“His fastball started to flatten out and we were able take advantage of what he gave us,” added Kruk, who finished with four hits and reached base a fifth time on an error.
“The fact we scored eight times in the final two innings can only help us, it certainly should carry over to tomorrow,” added Kruk.
The Riggers return to action at 10 a.m. today against the St. Albert Tigers and face the defending champion Fort Saskatchewan A’s at 7 p.m.
The Stags also play at 10 a.m. against the St. Albert Tabbies and at 4 p.m. against the Redbirds on diamond 2.
While Kruk was outstanding at the plate he was also solid at third base, a position he took over midway through the season when Jason Chatwood returned from college.
“I’m older than Jason and he’s a bit quicker now, so I don’t mind the switch,” said Kruk. “In fact I don’t care where I play. I’ll play rover if they ask, as long as I’m playing.”
While the Riggers offence was stagnant early, right-hander Denver Wik kept them in the game. He gave up a single run in the first, one in the fifth and one in the seventh. Overall he scattered nine hits and walked two.
“Denver did a great job of keeping us in the game until we found our offence,” said Kruk.
The Riggers collected five hits and six walks off Vavra and four hits off Fraser Armstrong, who came in in the seventh.
The Riggers first two runs came in the top of the first on two errors, a single by Kruk, a balk and a wild pitch.
Dwayne Lalor added a pair of hits for the Riggers while Blake Carruthers and Junior Norris had a pair each for the Redbirds.
The Riggers and Stags play twice each on Saturday. The Riggers clash with the Tabbies at 10 a.m. and the Calgary Cardinals at 4 p.m. on diamond 1 while the Stags meet the A’s at 10 a.m. on diamond 2 and the Tigers at 1 p.m. on diamond 1.
The top four teams advance to the semifinals Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. with the final at 4 p.m. The winner advances to the 2010 national finals.