Stags rock Rockies

The Red Deer Stags took an in-your-face attitude into Thursday’s Sunburst Baseball League game at Great Chief Park and it paid off big time.

Red Deer Stag James Car crushes a double against the Edmonton Rockies at Great Chief Park Thursday. The Stags won

Stags 11 Rockies 3

The Red Deer Stags took an in-your-face attitude into Thursday’s Sunburst Baseball League game at Great Chief Park and it paid off big time.

The Stags were extremely aggressive on the base paths, which unnerved the Edmonton Rockies to the point of committing a handful of throwing errors.

The low point for the Rockies and losing pitcher Mike McKinnon came in the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Stags, already with a 5-3 lead, blew the game open with six runs. The visitors managed to get two of their first three batters on base in the top of the seventh, but the Stags turned a 4-3 double play and walked off with an 11-3 win when the game was called due to the eight-run mercy rule.

“We forced some of those (throwing errors) with aggressive base running,” said Stags co-coach Davin Gulbransen. “We’ve been harping on our guys all year to do that. It seemed like any time we had a guy on first it was like an automatic double because he was looking for that next base. Earlier in the season we were a little complacent in that guys were waiting to get hit over, rather than wanting that stolen base.”

The Stags struck for three runs in the first inning, but the Rockies answered with a pair of their own in the second frame. From there, the visitors got a lone tally in the fifth while the hosts scored once in each of the fourth and fifth innings before exploding in the sixth.

Nick Ryan worked the first five innings on the Stags mound, allowing just one hit but walking nine batters. He also recorded a pair of strikeouts.

Playing coach Dan Zinger pitched the final two frames, giving up one hit while walking one batter and fanning one.

The Stags collected 11 hits off McKinnon, who went the distance. Drew Taddia was three-for-five at the plate for the Stags, Zinger was two-for-four, Shaun Connor was two-for-two and Jordan Reiter and Richard Northcott each stroked an RBI single.

The Stags were able to save most of their pitching for their tournament today to Sunday at Great Chief Park.

“We don’t have a real deep (pitching) staff right now,” said Gulbransen, adding that the momentum gained with Thursday’s win could prove beneficial this weekend. “This was a perfect game going into the tournament,” he said. “We’ll see better pitchers in the tournament but we’ve seen worse this season, too. We had to work at the plate for our hits. It was a good way to go into the weekend.”

The Red Deer Riggers and Calgary Redbirds will open the tournament tonight with a 7 p.m. contest. The Stags and Calgary Longhorns will follow at 9:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the Fort Saskatchewan A’s will take on the Redbirds at 10 a.m., the St. Albert Tigers will face the Longhorns at 1 p.m., the Riggers and A’s will hook up three hours later and the Stags will meet the Tigers at 7 p.m.

The third-place teams in each of the two pools will do battle at 9 a.m. Sunday, followed by the second-place teams playing for $150 apiece at 12 noon, and the championship game at 3 p.m. The tournament champion will snare a cheque for $1,000, with $700 going to the runner-up.

l Darren Sopkow knocked in four runs on two hits to lead the Red Deer Riggers to a 9-4 win over the Calgary Red Birds on Thursday,

Dwayne Lalor got the start for the Riggers and pitched four innings, allowing one run on three hits and two walks while striking out three. Tyler Dunsmore relived Lalor and pitched two innings, giving up a run on three hits and a walk while striking out one. Mac Girodat gave up two runs on three hits in one inning while Kerry Boone closed out the final two innings without surrendering a run. Jason Chatwood had three hits for the Riggers, scoring twice and collected an RBI.

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