The Red Deer Stags could have backed into the championship game of their own weekend baseball tournament at Great Chief Park.
The Stags opened strong, blowing past the Calgary Longhorns 7-1 Friday night, and would have competed for the top prize of $1,000 with a mere five-run loss to the St. Albert Tigers 24 hours later. Instead, the Stags were slagged 11-1 by their Sunburst League foes, and based on the tournament’s runs for and against formula, finished third in their three-team pool and were slated to meet the Calgary Redbirds in a Sunday morning game with no cash on the line.
The Redbirds didn’t show up for the game, giving the Stags another kick to the groin.
“The tournament went really well, although from a players’ standpoint it was really disappointing,” said Stags pitcher/co-coach Davin Gulbransen, after watching the Tigers rally to defeat the Fort Saskatchewan A’s 7-6 in the championship game Sunday afternoon. “We put ourselves in a good position by winning Friday night and then struggled Saturday.
“But it was just St Albert hitting the ball when they needed to and sometimes you just have to tip your hat to your opponent and realize that not every bounce is going to go your way. I thought we gave ourselves a good chance. It just didn’t happen.”
The Tigers and A’s were deadlocked at 4-4 after the regulation seven innings of the final, but Fort Saskatchewan struck for two runs in the top of the eighth and appeared poised to accept the $1,000 winners’ cheque.
However, St. Albert victimized A’s pitcher James Fischer for three runs in the bottom of the frame to pull out the win, the decisive run scoring when A’s second baseman Andy Herman booted a one-out, bases-loaded ground ball by Joe Carr.
The Fort Saskatchewan crew was presented with a runner-up cheque for $700.
Earlier, the Red Deer Riggers fell 4-3 to the Longhorns in a battle of second-place teams. Each club earned $150.
Owen Mhyre was the winning pitcher, giving up three hits in a complete-game performance. Mac Girodat was the loser, scattering seven hits and fanning four batters.
Mike Ronnie slugged a solo home run for the Riggers, and Curtis Bailey and Aaron Graves each had two hits.