The first official game of the season between the St. Albert senior Tigers and the junior Tabbies ended in a 5-2 decision favouring the junior squad on Friday night.
The key to the game was strong pitching by Myles Ethier of the Tabbies. The right-hander from Spruce Grove saw himself in a couple tight spots but ended up stranding eight Tigers in scoring position by keeping the ball low and in the infield.
“It was an awesome game,” said Tabbies manager Buddy Beley. “Ethier threw an absolute gem for us. And our defensive play was on its A-game. That killed a few innings for them but definitely good for us.”
Top notch defending by the Tabbies included four double plays turned to the Tigers' two. Other than one bounce that skipped over second base, the Tigers had trouble getting past the Tabbies' infield.
“Our middle infield was exceptional. When they finally did get one out, it didn't have a lot of distance on it and our outfielders found a way to get to it.”
The Tigers saw solid pitching from starter Derek Dallarto, as well. In 4.3 innings, he allowed four hits, walked three and struck out four.
Tigers’ manager Kurtis Millar said it was his offence that dried up against the junior squad.
“We underperformed. Our offence was terrible. We had some good performances here and there. But we got nothing for support. Not going to win too many ball games with that many stranded.”
As much as the inter-city rivalry is played up between the two squads, both managers agree it's mostly play. But neither will deny there seems to be a healthy increase in competitiveness whenever the two teams take the field.
“Anytime we get a chance to play those guys, we seem to get up for that quite easily,” commented Beley. “I know there's a lot of pride over in that dugout. I think there's a lot of respect between both teams. I know our guys surely respect the ability of that squad. If at any time they started to find some holes with their bats, they'd be tough to compete against.”
“It's always pretty good with the Tabbies,” replied Millar. “It's more like a friendly competition but other than that it was healthy. Of course there was some stuff being said but more out of fun. It was a good game and the Tabbies deserved that game. We just didn't.”
“Our goal is to get both teams working together on the same page and it's nice that [Beley] and I are on the same page. We want nothing but success from both teams.”
No score was available at press time for last night's Tabbies game against the Edmonton Angels. Tonight, the junior squad will face the Red Deer Riggers at Legion Memorial Park at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first game between the two clubs.
“The Riggers will probably be as strong as ever. We're hoping to get some innings in with some other pitchers. Hopefully we can keep our sticks going and stay comfortable with what everybody's doing.”
Meanwhile the Tigers are set to face the same team that ousted them 10-2 in last year's league final, the Fort Saskatchewan Athletics. First pitch on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. at Legion Park in the first rematch of the season.
“Fort is our biggest rivalry,” said Millar. “In the last five years, Fort's done nothing but get better as a club. If we can play a solid game against them and beat them, we know we're on track. It's still early. I wasn't too worried about how the guys performed [Friday]. Guys were taking at-bats deep into counts. We just can't leave guys in scoring position.”
The next Tabbies and Tigers game is set for June 16th at 7:30 p.m.