After a blowout at the hands of the Edmonton Angels on Tuesday, it was a last-pitch decision in the bottom of the ninth that secured a victory for the St. Albert Tabbies against the Red Deer Riggers.
In what the ball club described as a “rusty” effort in a 12-2 defeat at the hands of the Angels, it took four straight balls at the hands of the Riggers closer with the bases loaded to secure an 8-7 win for the Tabbies Wednesday night at Legion Memorial Park.
David Reiniger and Tom Shulba each drove in a pair of runs while Jessy Beley and Keith Wedgewood brought in one each and Evan Olsen scored the winning run on the walk.
Walks dug a hole for the Tabbies early. Giving up a total of nine on the night and leading to a 4-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the third, Myles Shaw touched home to start the comeback for the Tabbies.
“We were definitely rusty,” said assistant coach Rick Young about the loss to the Angels and the start of the game against the Riggers. “There are some things we need to iron out. We have a bunch of new players who are still adjusting who have come up from rep ball or are just back from college. By the end of the season they should be moulded and we should be good to go.
“It wasn't a matter of not thinking, a lack of coaching on the bags or not paying attention,” continued Young. “It's just a matter of getting settled in, which will come around with time.”
Shaw, who charged a weak strike in the seventh and made a force play to home with the bases loaded to preserve a run, said the Angels game was one of the few the Tabbies didn't show any fire, and they learned their lesson to bring a stronger effort against Red Deer.
“It was a little shaky. Bases loaded with only one out, I knew I had to make a big play. I wasn't going to be able to get first base so I made the throw to home and kept that run out.
“Big improvement [Wednesday]. There was a few errors and a lot of walks but we were mentally in the game and in the end we pulled it out. At about the halfway point in the game we started to turn it around. Our pitchers battled and our defence was solid.”
Reiniger's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth brought home Beley to pull the Tabbies to 4-2.
Back to back singles by Beley and Shulba evened the score.
In the top of the fifth, centre-fielder Dan McDonald made a stupefying catch, sprinting hard near second base to make a diving snag that closed out the inning and provided some much-needed fire to the home squad.
“That was a fantastic catch,” admired Young. “Later in the game that would definitely have been a game-saving, golden glove type play. I'd definitely say that turned our game around a bit and got the guys going.”
“Thought it was down and on the ground for sure and we were going to be in trouble at the plate, but Danny came out of nowhere and took that one away,” said Shaw.
But two hit-by-pitch throws and a walk in the seventh scored two Rigger runs, and a right field crack in the eighth restored a three-run lead for the Riggers.
“This isn't a club that's going to give up,” said Young. “Anybody who saw our game against the seniors knows that. There's a bunch of heart in this dugout, a lot of character. Some of which we probably have to rein in a bit, but it's a good problem.”
Holding the Riggers scoreless in the top of the ninth, Wedgewood's right field double scored Chad Simpson and McDonald to set the stage for the walk-in run and the win.
“One pitch at a time, great coaching, great defence!” yelled pitcher Drew Boyer afterwards with a grin.
The Tabbies play the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics on Wednesday at Legion field. First pitch is at 7:30 p.m.