Riggers 13 Redbirds 7
So much for the proverbial weekend hangover.
Just three days after taking top honours in their own tournament, the Red Deer Riggers ran over the Calgary Redbirds 13-7 in a Sunburst Baseball League South Division sudden-death semifinal on Wednesday at Great Chief Park.
The Riggers coughed up five runs in the fifth inning, but struck back with seven of their own in the bottom of the frame for an 11-7 lead, then added two more in the seventh inning.
“We hit the ball hard and we were able to continue to do some things that we did on the weekend,” said Dwayne Lalor, who filled in for absent Riggers manager Curtis Bailey. “We got some hits with guys on base and that’s something that will determine whether you win or lose ball games. We did that today and our pitching was good.”
Starting pitcher Tyler Dunsmore was effective for the Riggers until being charged with all five runs in the fifth inning.
“He went four and two-thirds (innings) and that was my fault,” said Lalor. “It was a coaching faux pas. I left him in too long.”
Mac Girodat pitched the remainder of the fifth frame as well as the sixth and seventh, and Colin Hodgson worked the final two innings on the Red Deer mound.
But the story line revolved around the Riggers’ offence. The host club collected 20 hits off Redbirds pitcher Mike Schlekeway, including eight in succession during the fifth-inning uprising that featured a two-run double by Lalor and a two-run single courtesy of Jordan Weinkauf.
Kerry Boon had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in three runs, and Weinkauf also contributed three RBIs for the winners. Lalor had three hits, Jared Chatwood stroked a single and an RBI triple, and Jason Chatwood, Aaron Graves and Chad Northcott chipped in with two singles apiece.
J.R. Nichols was the Redbirds’ offensive sparkplug with four singles.
“This was a good time for us to have a game, otherwise we would have been sitting for the better part of a week prior to provincials,” said Lalor. “It was a good test for us. They (Redbirds) put up some runs against us, they didn’t roll over or go away. We had to play hard and we had some guys answer the bell with runners on base.”
The Riggers will face the first-place Red Deer Stags in the Sunburst South Division final, with the contest to be played following the week-long provincial championship tournament, a seven-team, round-robin affair that opens Monday with the two Red Deer teams going head to head, and concludes with games Aug. 7-9 at Great Chief Park.
“With seven teams, the provincials are going to be interesting this year,” said Lalor. “With it being spread out over a week, guys who pitch Monday will definitely be able to come back on the weekend. But it will be a little tougher for the guys who pitch Wednesday. You’re still going to need a whole bunch of guys who can throw strikes and you have to stay healthy and right now we’re not looking good that way.”
Lalor was referring to the fact Denver Wik was injured during the Riggers tournament final, and the ongoing absence of Mike Ronnie, who was hurt during the Kamloops tournament.
“Hopefully, Mike will be able to play Thursday or Friday of next week,” said Lalor.