Riggers 11 Cubs 6
Red Deer Riggers’ manager Curtis Bailey wasn’t afraid to hand the ball to veteran right-hander Davin Gulbransen for the opening game of their best-of-three Sunburst Baseball League and provincial semifinal against the Edmonton Confederation Park Cubs.
Gulbransen has a history of coming up big in key games and Tuesday at Great Chief Park was no different.
Gulbransen worked into the eighth inning before tiring but that was enough to lead the Riggers to an 11-6 victory.
“Davin did a great job, he kept us in the game until he started to tire a bit later on,” said Bailey. “He did enough for us to take the lead for good.”
Gulbransen handed the ball to Joel Peterman with two out and one on in the eighth. Peterman fanned Clay Davis to end the inning and got through the ninth, allowing an unearned run on a pair of errors.
“Joel did a good job considering he hasn’t thrown for a few weeks,” said Bailey. “But he stepped up, threw strikes and did what we needed.”
The game got a bit sloppy over the final three innings, thanks mainly to a constant drizzle throughout the game.
“It wasn’t raining hard enough to call the game, but the ground got wet which affected the throws, plus the mound was sloppy … a bit of a mess,” said Bailey.
The Riggers jumped on Cubs starter Riley Meskaluk for a pair of runs in the first inning on a bases loaded single by Jaret Chatwood.
Meskaluk shut the door over the next three innings. The Cubs made a game of it in the top of the fifth, scoring once and leaving the bases loaded thanks to a brilliant diving catch by right fielder Aaron Graves on a sinking liner off the bat of Dean Olson.
The Riggers came back with a run of their own in the bottom of the fifth as Jason Louis drove home Jason Chatwood, who had a two-out double. The Riggers got to Meskaluk for five runs on three hits and three walks in the sixth inning. Louis, who had three hits and a walk, had a two-run single.
“Jason is a great hitter. He has great focus and great plate discipline. He’ll go up and try to hit the ball 500 feet, if not he will cut back and try to hit 400 feet,” Bailey said with a laugh. “But really he is very disciplined.”
The Cubs got to Gulbransen for four runs — two earned — on four hits in the eighth. The Riggers came back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame on a pair of hits and an error. Jaret Chatwood collected his third and fourth RBIs of the game with a single.
Jaret Chatwood also had three hits, Jason Chatwood two and Curtis Mazurkewich added a single and two walks. Brett Semeniuk had three hits and Ryan Koslofsky two for the Cubs, who had Canadian National female team member Nicole Luchanski at second base. She had a walk and a bunt single in four plate appearances.
Luchanski and Red Deer’s Kelsey Lalor helped Canada win silver at the Pan Am Games.
The second game goes tonight in Sherwood Park with the third, if necessary, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.
Dustin Northcott will start on the mound tonight.
Sherwood Park and St. Albert are in the other semifinal with the final slated for next week.