Stags stomped

Three games in as many nights was a stretch that did not agree with the Red Deer Stags.

Athletics 15 Stags 5

Three games in as many nights was a stretch that did not agree with the Red Deer Stags.

The Stags concluded their busy 72-hour schedule on a sour note Saturday, falling 15-5 to the defending Sunburst Baseball League champion Fort Saskatchewan Athletics at Great Chief Park.

“That’s a tough way to start the season,” said Stags co-coach and pitcher David Gulbransen, whose team will take a 1-2 record into a Thursday night meeting with the visiting St. Albert Tigers.

“We have a couple of pulled groins, a couple of pulled hamstrings and a lot of little aches and pains. Plus, we were missing four starters today. It’s early in the year. This was Nick’s (Ryan) first time pitching, my first time pitching. It was just one of those games.”

That being said, Gulbransen understands the importance of getting back to .500 and beyond as soon as possible.

“I don’t want to fall into that deal where it’s early in the year, so let’s not worry about it, because the next thing you know it’s the middle of June. If you get complacent your guys will start accepting defeat, so I hope this turns around real soon.”

Starter Chad Marchand was the losing pitcher, giving up nine runs on nine hits with one strikeout through four innings. Gulbransen then threw four scoreless frames, surrendering just one hit while fanning three batters.

The Athletics piled it on in the ninth inning, roughing up Ryan for six runs on five hits, the decisive blow being a three-run double by Andy Herman, who was three-for-four at the plate.

The visitors not only cracked 14 hits, they were sound defensively and got solid pitching from starter and winner Kiel Vertz, as well as James Fischer and Mike Duncan.

“They (Athletics) were missing one player of note, the rest of their guys were here. They’re a really good team,” said Gulbransen. “They really set the tone for themselves defensively in the first two innings. We hit the ball really hard and they made three major-league quality plays.”

Travis Guynup’s double was the lone extra-base hit for the Stags, who scored twice in the third inning and struck for three runs in the eighth.

l The Stags got stellar pitching from Josh Edwards, Rob Boik and Sheldon MacDonald in a 4-2 win over the Tigers Friday at St. Albert.

Edward threw five scoreless innings, recording four strikeouts while giving up just three hits. Boik fanned two batters while allowing two runs over two innings, and MacDonald worked two scoreless frames with three strikeouts to his credit.

Kevin Curran and Byron Whitford each had two hits for the Stags, while James Carr stroked a double and walked twice.