Stags 15 Riggers 3
The opening of the provincial senior AAA baseball championships couldn’t have drawn up any better for the Red Deer Stags.
In fact, the Stags put together a near perfect performance in downing the Red Deer Riggers 15-3 at Great Chief Park Monday.
“They came geared up to play and turned in a solid game,” said Riggers veteran Dwayne Lalor.
“They hit the ball well, got good pitching and made all the plays. They kicked our butts that’s all there is to it,”
Stags manager Dan Zinger was pleased with the effort, but somewhat surprised at the way they man-handled Riggers starter Brent Lazzarotto.
They exploded for six runs in the top of the first inning — three on Jason Fraser’s home run — and added two more in the second before Lazzarotto gave way to Colin Hodgson.
“I was honestly surprised at how we got to Brent. He’s played a lot of years in this league and he usually controls the game. I don’t know what happened today. It wasn’t something we expected, but we were able to take advantage of what we got today.”
Zinger was almost equally surprised at winning their opening game of the provincials.
“We normally suck at that,” he said. “Even the year we won the championship in ‘05 we lost the first game to the Riggers. Last year in Fort Saskatchewan it was the same thing. It’s a different feeling for sure, but good one.”
This year’s championship is a seven-team round-robin affair with the top four teams advancing to Sunday’s semifinals.
“It’s going to be tough and I can’t see a team going through the round-robin undefeated,” said Zinger.
“I know in our case we were hoping to win the first four games and go from there. If we’re 4-0 that should get us in the playoffs and really it doesn’t matter if you’re first or fourth you have to get there.”
“I believe everyone will lose at least once, so this isn’t the end of the world, although we have to start playing with some energy and eliminate some of the mistakes we made on defence,” he said.
“As a group we need to be better.”
While the Riggers didn’t get the starting pitching they expected left-hander Josh Edwards was solid for the Stags, allowing three runs on three hits in the third inning and allowing four more the rest of the way.
“Josh did what we expected of him,” said Zinger.
“He doesn’t blow anyone away, but nibbles and changes speeds.”
“He didn’t dominate by blowing us away, but he filled up the strike zone and simply pitched a solid game,” added Lalor.
The one bright spot for the Riggers, at least for close to four innings, was Hodgson. The rookie right-hander retired the first nine batters he faced and allowed just one hit and a walk in 3 2/3 innings.
However he tired in the sixth and allowed three walks and two hits before giving way to Tyler Dunsmore, who allowed four hits and a walk before getting out of the inning. The Stags scored seven times in the frame.
“Colin did throw the ball well before he tired and I thought Tyler was over-throwing,” said Lalor.
Overall the Stags managed 13 hits — three by Byron Whitford and two each by Kevin Curran, Drew Taddia, Jordan Reiter, Dan Zinger and Shaun Connor — to go with six walks.
A lack of offence is something that’s worried Zinger over the years.
“If I had a chose I’d accept good pitching over the hitting, but fortunately for us we had both today. Now we need to keep it up.”
l Riggers lost Matt Fay with a shoulder injury in the first inning following a collision with Taddia at first base . . . Jason Chatwood had two hits for the Riggers . . . The Stags host the Calgary Cardinals Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Great Chief Park while the Riggers visit the Calgary Redbirds . . . The rest of the tournament goes at Great Chief Park beginning Friday . . . The Stags take on the St. Albert Tabbies at 10 a.m. and the Redbirds at 4 p.m. on diamond 2 Friday while the Riggers clash with the St. Albert Tigers at 10 a.m. and the Fort Saskatchewan A’s at 7 p.m. Friday . . . On Saturday the Riggers meet with the Tabbies at 10 a.m. and the Cards 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 semifinals go Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. with the final at 4 p.m.