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Tyler McWillie feeling at home with Riggers

The former Sylvan Lake Gull decided to stay close to his new home and play with the Riggers
Former Sylvan Lake Gull Tyler McWillie made his return to Gulls Stadium on Tuesday as a member of the Red Deer Riggers.

Cubs 2

Riggers 0

Red Deer Riggers third baseman Tyler McWillie was in familiar territory on Tuesday night.

The former Sylvan Lake Gull made his return to Pogadl Park, the stadium he played in from 2021-23 for the Gulls of the Western Canadian Baseball League.

This time he donned a different uniform but it still felt like home.

“It’s always nice being back here. It’s the best place you can play in Alberta,” he said.

“It’s definitely weird not having 2,000 fans cheering for you but it was a lot of fun. We can’t ask for a better facility and I’ll be cheering on the Gulls as much as I can.”

McWillie didn’t get to display his usual power at the plate that fans had come accustomed to when he once donned the Sylvan Lake Gulls uniform.

Now with the Riggers, McWillie showed patience in the batter's box leading the way with a pair of walks on four at-bats.

He also made a few plays at third place in the Riggers home opener which ended in a 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Cubs.

“It was the same thing when we played our first game too in Calgary. They didn’t throw me too many fast balls but I’m still disappointed,” he said.

“I struck out and I want to be getting hits and contributing for the team. Walking is good but I feel I should be doing more.”

This wasn’t McWillie’s debut with the Riggers. He joined the team to make a run in the Canadian Men’s Senior AAA National Championship last season but enjoyed it so much that he returned for another season.

“I was really close with [Gulls head coach] Jason Chatwood and his brother runs this team. We became good friends and I decided I wanted to play,” he said.

“I’m living in Red Deer now so I thought I may as well play. We’re a competitive group we’ve got a lot of competitive players who are ex-college guys. It’s a lot of fun.”

After both teams were held scoreless in the first five innings, the Cubs got on the board in the top of the sixth.

One run scored after the Riggers failed to get the final out at first base with runners in scoring position.

Despite that, the inning could have been much worse for Red Deer who got out of their inning unscathed with runners on second and third base.

In the seventh inning, the Cubs tagged on one more run to take a 2-0 lead.

With a runner on third base, Edmonton connected on a big hit to right field that led to the second out of the inning. However, the throw was just too far to get the runner at home plate.

The Cubs held on to shut out the Riggers and hand Red Deer their second straight loss. The Riggers are 0-2 to begin the Sunburst League season after losing the season opener to the Calgary Rockies 4-1 on Friday.

“It’s frustrating. We should be able to hit but we’re just not hitting right now. I think we have a lot of talent we’re just not putting the bat on the ball,” McWillie added.

Rees DeRuyter started on the mound for the Riggers but was replaced by Adam Turgeon in the third inning.

Jay Kirkham was called to pitched the fifth inning before the Riggers turned to their closer Kai Poffenroth in the sixth inning.

In the seventh and final inning, Red Deer went to the young arm of Matthew Murray to wrap up the game.

The Riggers will look to get their first win of the season on Friday, May 24 in St. Albert against the Tigers.

However, before that they’ll play the Gulls in an exhibition game on Thursday, May 23 at 7:05 p.m. at Gulls Stadium.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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