It’s a long way from squaring off against Bryce Harper, but Tyler Vavra was solid in his debut for the Red Deer Riggers.
The right-hander started and went five innings in his first outing. After three innings of shutout ball he gave up one run in the fourth before striking out three straight.
He was pulled in the fifth during a four run inning for the St. Albert Tigers, but then the Riggers bullpen took over and held on for a 9-6 win.
“The first three were good, just got a little tired there in the fifth,” said Vavra. “It was my first time going above 75 pitches this year, but had a great time with the guys. This is a great group of guys who can really swing it.”
Vavra struck out four and walked one. After the fifth inning, Riggers pitchers Joel Peterman, Davin Gulbranson, Chad Price and Drew Boyer surrendered only one run.
The bulk of the Riggers runs came in the second inning when singles from designated hitter Derek Chapman, centre fielder Shayne Court (who went 2-for-3 with two singles) and first baseman Josh Edwards scored the first run. Second baseman Denver Wilk, right fielder Joel Mazurkewich and left fielder Kevin Curran drove in three runs with Wilk hitting a double.
“The bats came out early, Tyler pitched great for us and our bullpen came in and shut the door,” said Chatwood. “We scored a couple of runs when we needed to near the end. It was a tough game and we had a solid effort from everybody. You’re going to have those games where you have to stay patient and grind it out.”
The Riggers tacked on two runs in the third inning and then one run in each of the fourth, sixth and eighth to edge ahead of the Tigers.
Vavra played junior college ball at the College of Southern Idaho. During his time there he faced off against Harper, a Washington Nationals right fielder, who at the time played for Southern Nevada.
After junior college, Vavra went to Eastern Michigan. But Tommy John surgery in his junior year set his game back.
“This is a great place to come, it’s a pretty decent league and the guys can still hit if you leave a pitch over the plate,” said Vavra.
The Riggers have now won their first three games of the season, losing two road games to rainouts over the weekend. They are a game up on the second place Sherwood Park Athletics.
The Riggers next game is on the road against the Sherwood Park Athletics on June 8 and then they have a league tournament, playing four games over the June 11th and 12th weekend.
They next play at home on June 14 against the Confederation Cubs. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.