After some incidents with weather, the St. Albert Tabbies got their regular season under way this weekend with a split-decision doubleheader against the Calgary Redbirds.
The Tabbies followed a tight 5-4 win, in which the winning run scored off an errant pitch, with a 8-6 loss to the Redbirds at Legion Memorial Park on Saturday. St. Albert gave up four runs in the first inning and couldn't recover.
“It was a good win to start the season off,” said manager Buddy Beley. “But unfortunately the second game didn't go as well. We couldn't quite battle back.
“Calgary has always put a good team together. We're not disappointed. Our pitchers definitely gave us the opportunities to win the games. Defensively we didn't do a whole lot of damage there either. Sometimes when you hit the ball you don't find the gaps. We just came out on the wrong end.”
“I think we were just relieved to win a ball game early in the year,” added outfielder Dan McDonald. “They're a good ball club and they threw well. We took good approaches at the plate for the most part and played a pretty scrappy ball game.”
Calgary took advantage of a pair of walks in the opening inning by starting Tabbies pitcher Chris Dick to score a run on a missed throw to first base.
St. Albert replied in the bottom of the second, Darren Adams earning the RBI on a single to right field. Another pair of runs in the third gave the Tabbies the lead, with McDonald's double bringing home two.
Calgary clawed back with single runs in the fourth and fifth, and pulled ahead in the sixth with one more run. With bases loaded, a walk scored Matt Rudd to tie the game at four apiece.
Infielder Evan Olsen reached on a missed pitch in the seventh to secure the victory.
All in all, neither the coaching staff nor the players were disappointed with the split against Calgary. In game two, the Tabbies agreed that it was just a matter of a few hits going the Redbirds way with a couple of the St. Albert pitchers not used to going deeper into games this early in the year.
“We sat back on a few hits we could have probably charged,” said Beley. “But it's the start of the season. The guys will learn they can't sit back and let a few ground balls beat them up. They have to keep going after them. I think the parity this year will be good in the league and I'm looking forward to playing every team.”
“The umpire in the second game was definitely calling it a lot tighter than he was in the first,” added McDonald. “Some arms got tired and some guys made mistakes, but we also put up a few runs. We're not disappointed with that loss, they just had a couple big innings.”
After the Angels, the Tabbies face their senior club, the St. Albert Tigers, on Friday. Last year, the Tabbies' first win came against the Tigers in the second game of a doubleheader after six straight losses.
As it is every year, the Tabbies will use the Tigers as their measuring stick for the season, building on a healthy rivalry between the two St. Albert clubs. At some point or another, more than a few of the Tabbies have played with or been coached by players currently with the Tigers.
“It will depend on what arm they throw at us and how defensively we play,” said Beley, who returns for his fourth year with the Tigers organization and 14th year overall as a coach. “We know they're going to hit the ball on us no matter who throws. We just have to defend well and we'll get our opportunities at the plate and that should be a good one.”
“Everybody knows the Tigers are a premier ball club in this league,” said McDonald. “There's no shortage of incentive to come out and play hard. We're going to see some really good pitching. It'll be a good test offensively and defensively to see where we stand.”
The Tabbies battle the Edmonton Rockies tonight at Goldstick. First pitch is at 7 p.m. Game time Friday against the Tigers is 7:30 p.m. at Legion field.