AND WE'RE OFF! Cardinals Salvage a Split Against Cowichan Valley on Sunday and Settle For a 2-1 Record After Opening Weekend
Posted April 15, 2018
The West Coast Cardinals were finally back to game action this weekend after Mother Nature did its best to keep the Cards off the diamond ever since they won their own tournament over Easter weekend. They would kick off their regular season schedule with 4 games at Bird Field – a doubleheader against Richmond on Saturday, followed by another doubleheader against Cowichan Valley on Sunday. Unfortunately, some heavy rain interrupted the back end of the doubleheader with Richmond on Saturday night, so the Cards were only able to complete 3 of their 4 scheduled games. A win in game 1 over Richmond and a split with Cowichan means the Cards are off to a 2-1 start.
Richmond 0 CARDINALS 4
The theme of this weekend was the Cards putting runs on the board early, then the bats not doing much in the second half of the game. Leadoff hitter Hendriks got the ball rolling in the bottom of the 1st with a single to right field. He would advance to second on a groundball out, then show off his aggressive base-running by scoring all the way from 2nd on a two-out infield single by clean-up hitter Lefebvre. The bottom of the Cards’ order delivered 3 more runs in the 2nd. Waters and starting pitcher Duncan-Wu each were handed a free pass down to first, later moving up to occupy 2nd and 3rd. With one out, Lamourea laid down a great bunt to bring Waters home and also reached base himself on the play. Duncan-Wu scampered home on a wild pitch for the Cards’ third run, then Nagatomo slapped a single over the first basemen’s head to cash in Lamourea. That was the only offense for the Cards in this one, but it was all they needed as their pitching quieted the Chuckers’ bats. Duncan-Wu didn’t allow a base-runner in his 3 innings of work, striking out the side in the 3rd. He stayed under 45 pitches so he could be saved for a potential relief appearance the next day. Maunahan threw well over the next 3 innings, working out of a jam by striking out two in a row with runners on second and third in the 6th. Lefebvre got the last three outs in the 7th to lock up the 4-0 victory in the Cards’ season opener. -JO
Richmond 0 CARDINALS 3 (suspended after 3 1/2 innings)
Game 2 started in a similar fashion, with the Cards scoring 3 in an inning, this time the top of the order coming through in the bottom of the 1st. Three batters in, the Cards had a 2-0 lead, as Hendriks and Suzuki both reached base and both scored on Tong’s double to the left-centre gap. Yuen later drove in Tong with a sacrifice fly to centre to cap off the 3-run 1st inning. Rogers threw 4 shutout innings before the game was suspended due to rain prior to the Cards’ turn to bat in the bottom half, the score still 3-0 for the Cards. These two teams will meet again in Richmond on April 29th, which is when this game will most likely be resumed before the scheduled double header takes place. -JO
CowichanValley 1 CARDINALS 0
There’s no other way to describe the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader than a classic pitcher’s duel. Hendriks got the start for the Cards and threw 6 2/3, allowing just a single hit and 0 earned runs while striking out 10. He dug himself some small holes in the latter half his outing, walking the leadoff hitter in three of the last four innings, but the Mustangs couldn’t muster much solid contact the entirety of the game so they couldn’t take advantage. The only run of the ballgame came in the top of the 2nd and was the product of three errors by the Cardinals’ defense. Cowichan’s leadoff hitter reached base by beating out a bobbled groundball to 3rd, then advanced to second two batters later on a sacrifice bunt. He came around to score on a pickoff attempt that was overthrown into centre field despite slipping and falling rounding 3rd base... because the overthrown ball also got by the Cards’ centre fielder. The Cards’ bats were searching for answers all game long, stumped by the stuff from Mustangs’ starter Thomasson. He allowed a leadoff single to Hendriks in the first inning, and nothing after that, matching his pitching counterpart’s strikeout total in just 5 complete innings. Once he exceeded his pitch count, the Cards’ had a couple of golden opportunities to tie the game in the 6th and 7th. Hendriks led off the 6th with a drive over the right fielder’s head for a triple, but was stranded as #2 through #4 in the Cards’ order couldn’t get the job done. Then in the 7th, they put the first two runners on with a hit-by-pitch and a rocket through the right side of the bat of Rogers. Nagatomo was brought off the bench to execute the sacrifice, setting the table for his fellow Vancouver Minor rookies. Unfortunately, with the tying and winning runs in scoring position, they couldn’t put a ball in play, and the Cards’ suffered their first loss of the season, 1-0 the final. -JO
CowichanValley 3 CARDINALS 8
Knowing that they needed to bounce back after a disappointing game 1 performance, the Cards lit up the scoreboard in the first couple of innings, facing the same pitcher that closed out the previous game for the Mustangs. One thing that the Cards managed to do in this game that they didn’t in the first game was test the opposing defence. The rally started in the bottom of the 1st with Suzuki reaching thanks to a wild throw from the Mustangs’ second baseman. Tong drew a walk, further expanding the gap between his modest average and ridiculous OBP, then he and Suzuki both scored thanks to a couple of singles from Lefebvre and Yuen, giving the Cards a 2-0 lead after the 1st. The offensive explosion came in the 2nd, as the Cards scored 5 runs with two outs. Giesbrecht got it going with a walk, then traded places with McRae on a fielder’s choice. Hendriks laced a single to left and was retired on another fielder’s choice, McRae moving up to third on the play. He would score on a wild pitch before Tong walked again – that’s when the ball really started flying off the barrel. Lefebvre and Yuen came through with back-to-back singles for the second straight inning, Lefebvre picking up an RBI and Yuen picking up two. That chased the Mustangs’ starter from the game, as he departed with his team in a 6-0 hole. Rogers and Heilker kept the hit parade marching with two more singles. Heilker’s shot up the middle drove in Yuen, but Rogers was gunned at the plate to finally end the bottom of the 2nd. It would stay 7-0 Cards until the 5th, Yuen cruising on the mound up until that point. A dropped and kicked third strike plus a 1-out walk set Cowichan up with a pair of base-runners, and a couple more defensive mishaps from the Cardinals broke up Yuen’s shutout. One run scored on a misplayed groundball, and another scored on a poorly executed 1st-and-3rd play to cut the Cards’ lead to 7-2. Yuen needed 30 pitches to escape this inning without further damage, and it was his last inning of the game. Maunahan would take over in the 6th, fighting his command as he walked the bases loaded, exiting the game with two outs in the inning in favor of Duncan-Wu, who required only 4 pitches to strike out the only batter he faced. However, the runner at three induced a balk from Duncan-Wu, so he trotted home to make the score 7-3. Lamourea single-handedly got that run back for the Cards in the bottom half, leading the inning off with a double to left-centre and scoring on a stolen base plus an overthrow. McRae slammed the door shut in the 7th, the Cards turning a game-ending 6-4-3 double play to salvage a split with the Cowichan Valley Mustangs, 8-3 your final. -JO
How about a couple of interesting stats to wrap up this report? The Cards allowed a total of 4 runs in their two games on Sunday, but Cowichan didn’t have a single base hit that helped produce any of those runs. They had 3 hits combined in the two games, scattered across innings in which they did not score at all. Also, in 22 offensive innings, the Cards scored 15 runs – all but one of those runs were scored in the first two innings of the game (including the suspended game against Richmond). That being said, the Cards definitely have a few things to improve upon ahead of their trip up to Kamloops and Kelowna for 4 more league games next weekend.