Riggers hammer Stags in provincial opener
Updated: August 06, 2010 11:19 PM
St. ALBERT — Red Deer Riggers manager Curtis Bailey understands the importance of getting off to a good start to the provincial championships.
He also knows that one game doesn’t make a champion.
“You can’t win or lose the tournament in the first game, but you sure help yourself if you come out with a ‘W,’” said Bailey after the Riggers downed the Red Deer Stags 13-1 in five innings in their opening game of the Alberta senior AAA baseball championships Friday.
It was the defending champion Riggers lone game of the opening day of the five-team tournament while the Stags turned around and beat the host St. Albert Tigers 5-3.
The Riggers jumped on Stags starter Josh Edwards for three runs in the first inning then picked up seven against Edwards and reliever Burke Seifrit of Spruce Grove in the second. The Stags didn’t help themselves as they made two errors in the first inning and one in the second.
“We weren’t there that game, but we didn’t get down on ourselves,” said Stags co-manager Shawn Connor.
“We took advantage of what we got plus we hit the ball hard,” said Bailey. “We kept our swings short and weren’t trying to hit home runs”
It was the third time in a little over a week that the Riggers faced Edwards, which helped, said Bailey.
“We were comfortable with him. We knew his pitches and the guys were ready to hit. We were also aggressive when we got our pitch.”
Meanwhile, Riggers starter James Dykstra was facing the Stags for the second time in four days.
But they still couldn’t solve him, managing an unearned run in the first inning and finishing with two hits, both by Dan Zinger.
Dykstra didn’t mind coming back after only two days rest.
“There was a little running and some ice and I hoped it worked today,” he said. “My curve was working and my fastball was moving . . . it all worked, I can’t complain.”
The fact he pitched in the middle of the day, in the 26 degree heat, helped as well.
“I love the heat,” he said. “I use long sleeves no matter what. The warmer it is the better I can pitch.”
He also didn’t miss a beat when he sat on the bench for 40 minutes in the second inning.
“I felt good and with the heat and slipped on a jacket for a brief time and it didn’t bother me.”
What also didn’t bother him was the 10-1 lead.
“With that kind of a lead I could challenge the hitters and be aggressive,” he said. “I may give up a hit or two, but hopefully they get themselves out.”
The Riggers defence — except for a first-inning error by Dykstra — was solid, led by second baseman Denver Wik, who was in on six of the 15 outs.
Bailey didn’t hesitate when it came to naming Dykstra his starter.
“Lenny has been good all season and very consistent,” he said. “When he’s in that groove he’s hard to beat.”
Kerry Boon had a single, a double, a bases loaded walk and drove in three runs. Matt Fay, Jason Chatwood and Shayne Court added two hits each.
The Stags, backed by left-hander Jamie Vallis of Calgary, turned in a solid effort against the Tigers and never trailed.
Jason Fraser got their offence going with a solo home run in the second inning. The Tigers tied it in the bottom of the second on a wild pitch but Zinger walked and eventually scored on Connor’s single in the third.
The Red Deer crew added a pair of runs in the fifth on an RBI double by Byron Whitford and a ground out RBI by Jordan Reiter. The Tigers managed a run in the fifth with the team exchanging runs in the seventh.
Vallis, who is from Nova Scotia and plays with the Calgary Wolfpack, allowed four hits.
Derek Dallarto started for the Tigers and gave up four runs with Drew Boyer finishing.
“It was a good effort as there really is no pressure on us after that first game,” said Connor. “Last year we beat the Riggers in their first game and they came back to win the province, so we just forgot about that game.
“Vallis did a helluva job for us,” added Connor. “He battled hard and got us out of a couple of tough situations.”
Connor did change up his defence in the nightcap.
“We wanted to shake things up a bit, plus we wanted to get Richard (Northcott) in behind the plate. He’s caught a lot for us this season and deserved the chance. And he called a good game.”
Whitford had a single and a double while Fraser had a home run and single and Connor two singles.
In other action Friday, the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics downed the Tigers 2-0 and the Calgary Redbirds 4-3.
In play today the Riggers face the Redbirds at 11 a.m. and the A’s at 8 p.m. while the Stags clash with the A’s at 2 p.m. The other game sees the Tigers and Redbirds meeting at 5 p.m.
On Sunday the Stags face the Redbirds at 9 a.m. and the Riggers take on the A’s at noon.
If one team is undefeated following round-robin play they have to be defeated twice in the final. If three or more teams are tied there will be tie-breakers with a possibility of the final going Monday.