The Red Deer Riggers will play in the Sunburst Baseball League senior AAA provincial final next week.
After finishing third in league play, the Riggers swept the Sherwood Park Athletics in the best-of-three semifinal to advance to the final.
“Really happy, we just kind of started peaking at the right time. Our pitchers are throwing really good, our hitters are having really good at-bats and our defence was solid. Everyone kind of contributed and we came away with two good victories,” said manager Jaret Chatwood.
Red Deer closed out the series with a convincing 7-1 win over the A’s Wednesday in Sylvan Lake, in large part due to a gem on the mound from young pitcher Rees DeRuyter.
The rookie allowed just one unearned run on three hits and struck out seven batters in the victory.
“He’s been really good for us all year and (Wednesday) he just showcased that again how much of a workhorse he is. He went out there and threw strikes to a really good hitting lineup, kept them off balance. Gave us the opportunity to win,” Chatwood said.
The Riggers got to work early in the victory, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first, including a two-RBI double from Jason Louis. Red Deer added single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth on the way to the win.
In Tuesday’s series opener in Sherwood Park, the Riggers scored eight runs in the top of the seventh inning to pick up a 12-5 win.
The visitors trailed 5-4 heading into the final inning but tied the game at five after a based loaded walk. From there, errors by the A’s and some timely hits lead to the eight-run outburst.
“It was just really good battles. We came in there knowing we had to get at least one. Our leadoff guy got on base, then we got a bunt base hit and we were going to bunt them over, but he got on as well. There was a walk, then we got a couple of hits and it just started steamrolling from there,” Chatwood said.
Red Deer will take on the Edmonton Cubs in the best-of-five league final. That series starts Monday in Sylvan Lake, with first pitch set for 7:30 p.m. The Cubs are the defending league champions, capturing a title in 2019.
Game 2 will be in Edmonton, with Game 3 back in Sylvan Lake.
Chatwood said the Riggers have struggled this season against the Edmonton but believes they’re relatively even ahead of the final.
“We didn’t have a very good record against them, but we lost a couple one-run games and it was those road games where we didn’t have a bunch of our guys there. I think we match up very well,” He added.
The winner of the final will represent Alberta at the 2022 Senior National Championship.