Riggers 11 Tigers 3
Brant Stickel has seen his share of the world and if he has his way he’ll see a little more before his baseball career is done.
But as of now the former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect is spending his time with the Red Deer Riggers.
Stickel, a native of Veteran, made his debut with the Riggers Tuesday and picked up the win in an 11-3 victory over the St. Albert Tigers in the Sunburst Baseball League season opener at Great Chief Park.
The 25-year-old left-hander threw seven innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and three walks while fanning nine.
“I felt good, although I was starting to tire a bit at the end,” he said. “I only threw relief last year, so it was good to get back starting again.”
It was the second appearance of the season for Stickel, who did throw a game last week for Coronation.
Stickel spent last season in the Dodgers chain playing with Ogden in the Pioneer League, Great Lakes in the Midwest A league and with the Arizona Dodgers. He finished the year with Arizona and put together a solid 1.56 ERA for the league champions, but it just didn’t work out for him.
“They seemed to feel I was a bit too old and had more younger American arms,” he said. “So I was granted my release after last season.”
Stickel grew up in Central Alberta and spent a year with Minot State University before playing four years with the University of Calgary Dinos. It was there that he got his first break when he was asked to come out for the Calgary Vipers.
“I threw an inning for them and they asked me to sign and I had a good year,” explained Stickel. “My cousin Shane Doan then brought me down to Phoenix for a tryout with the Dodgers as a walk on and they signed me.”
Stickel also spent some time in Venezuela.
“I’ve seen a lot of the world,” he said with a laugh.
And while he was grateful to get a shot at playing pro ball, he believes he may get another opportunity.
“I feel I’m not done. Maybe next year or even later this year, but this is a good place to play. It’s a good league and I’ll get a chance to pitch a lot. I also know some of the guys. I’ve played against Jason and Jaret (Chatwood) and played with Mike Ronnie at Minot.”
Riggers manager Curtis Bailey liked what he saw from Stickel.
“It’s naturally different for him from playing pro ball. The hitters are better there and here he can challenge the hitters. He did that in the first inning and had no problems. In the second he didn’t challenge them as much, then went back to it in the third and that was where he had success.”
The Tigers scored a pair of runs in the second inning to go up 2-1 with the Riggers regaining the lead in the fourth. They added a run in the fifth and put the game away thanks to the eight-run mercy rule with six runs in the bottom of the seventh. Mark Fay put the lid on the game with a two-run triple and scored on a throwing error.
“Our timing was a bit off considering it’s still early, but overall I was pleased with what I saw,” said Bailey. “Really Curtis (Mazurkewich) is the only one who started tonight who has been playing.”
Jason Chatwood looked in mid-season form as he had two singles, a double and lined the ball hard on his other at bat. Jaret Chatwood and Matt Fay added two hits each while Denver Wik had a double and Bailey and Ronnie contributed a single and a walk each.
Dan Curtis had a pair of doubles for the Tigers, who started Matt Hammond, who worked four innings, allowing three runs on six hits, Craig Tomas went the rest of the way.
The Riggers are scheduled to play at Fort Saskatchewan Thursday.
The weatherman spoiled the Red Deer Stags season opener Tuesday in Fort Saskatchewan. The Stags are to host the Parkland White Sox Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.