Riggers one win away from league title

Red Deer squad up against defending national champion Fort Saskatchewan

There’s a good chance the Red Deer Riggers could have another piece of hardware to adorn the mantle after tonight.

After splitting the first two games of the Sunburst Baseball League best of three final on the road against the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics on Saturday, the local senior men’s AAA baseball squad is one win away from capturing the league title, with the third and deciding game in the series to be played tonight in Red Deer.

“The first two games were very good games, very close games,” said Riggers manager Curtis Bailey.

“In the first game (a 3-1 win for Red Deer), Matt Davis threw and he threw well. He threw a three hitter. So he’s getting more confidence each time he goes out. In the second game (a 4-3 loss for Red Deer), it was another close game, there were a few more hits either way. It could have been a different outcome. Joel Peterman threw that one, and he actually went six innings, which is good for him. He gained some confidence and threw well that game.”

Tonight’s game won’t be the first time the Riggers and the A’s have met with a title on the line, nor will it be the last.

The Riggers recently won the 2010 provincial banner with a 6-4 come from behind win over the A’s in St. Albert, earning themselves a berth in the 2011 Baseball Canada Senior Men’s National Championship.

“Both teams are very close competitively,” admitted Bailey, who also plays for the Riggers.

“They’ve got some deeper pitching than we do right now. The difference for us, offensively, is that they’ll hit more singles and make the contact and play the small game with the odd big hit. We tend to hit more doubles and score runs that way. Both teams can hit the ball well. They just approach it a bit different. They do the small things well, and we kind of play for big innings, but it’s very close. Very competitive.”

Leading the way for the Riggers this season has been the brothers Chatwood, Jason and Jaret, with Jason picking up 29 hits and 15 RBI’s in 57 at bats, while Jaret also banged out 29 hits this season to go along with 19 RBI’s.

Bailey says the siblings just keep getting better.

“Both those guys, especially Jason, he’s always been a great hitter,” said Bailey.

“Jason is a hard out to get. I think he’s struck out once, maybe twice all season. And his younger brother Jaret is coming along well. Swings the bat well, aggressive, and when he gets on base, he’s aggressive as well. Those two guys were a good addition.”

And while both the A’s and the Riggers will have their eyes on the Sunburst crown tonight, Bailey thinks both squads will be also be scouting each other in advance of the national tournament, which goes later this month in Nova Scotia.

Fort Saskatchewan, of course, is the defending national champion.

“It’s one of those games where, you’re going into nationals and you want to be competitive and play well,” said Bailey.

“I think both teams want to do that. The downside for us is that for tonight we’ll have four or five guys, college guys, who won’t be in the line up as they are already off to school. They’ll be with us for nationals, but we won’t have them tonight. So that could become a factor but Fort Saskatchewan will be dealing with that too as they have a couple of college guys.”

First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m. down at Great Chief Park.

After tonight, the Riggers will get a couple of days off before heading east for nationals, which run Aug.26-29.

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