Yuen's 76 Pitch CGSO Propels Cardinals to Narrow GM1 Victory; Hendriks and Tong Combine for 6 Hits in GM2 as West Coast Ties Game in 7th and Scores 5 in the 10th en route to 10-6 W Over Cowichan
Posted May 13, 2018
The West Coast Cardinals made a day trip to the island on Saturday for a double-header at the beautifully quaint Holland Creek Park in Ladysmith. Their opponent was the Cowichan Valley Mustangs, the team that handed them their only loss of the season so far. Exactly 2 weeks from their last starts, Yuen and Hendriks were chomping at the bit to get back on the mound and both veterans had some friendly competition on the Wednesday ahead of the double header. The winner of a groundball “king of the hill” determined who would start game 1, both 2021 grads went back and forth and dueled until the lights at Bird went out…Yuen captured victory and was awarded the pivotal game 1 start, Hendriks settling for 2nd. Both games at Holland Creek Park were low scoring in the early going, but game 2 featured an ending you’d have to see to believe.
CARDINALS 2 CowichanValley 0
The Cards were looking for revenge against starting pitcher Thomasson, who shut them down for 5 innings and picked up the 1-0 win last month at Bird Field. They put two runners on in the 1st but failed to score either of them, which turned out to be a common theme on the day. First time around Thomasson’s pitching counterpart was Hendriks, this time Yuen would take the hill in game 1, and he was on fire. He faced the minimum through 5 innings, throwing only 45 pitches while letting his defence roll another double play in the midst of the 5 no hit innings, a 6-4-3 beauty from Hendriks over to Waters over to Heilker. Yuen's no-hitter was finally snapped with a leadoff single by Freer in the bottom of the 6th. While Yuen was in cruise control, the Cards were fighting themselves every inning to push runs across, very much like their first game against Thomasson. The stat sheet would indicate that the Cards’ bats had a good day, but seemingly every single inning they would squander opportunities to extend their lead. The Cards were fortunate to push a couple of runs across despite not having an RBI in the game. Waters got the top of the 2nd started with a one-out double to the left-centre gap, then moved up on a seeing-eye single up the middle by Heilker. Curiously, Thomasson attempted a backdoor pick-off move to first base and the ball trickled away from the 1st baseman, as Waters came home on the play to put the Cards ahead 1-0. Desperate to provide some insurance, the bottom of the order created a run on the bases in the 6th. Waters, who had a monster day at the plate, got the inning started once again with a leadoff single. McRae was subbed into the game to run for Waters, advancing to second on a groundball out, then to third on a wild pitch. Nagatomo was walked and gifted second base, setting up the squeeze play with Maunahan at the plate. Maunahan executed the bunt, but McRae was called out at the plate for the second out of the inning. Their last ditch effort was to get Maunahan to steal 2nd and luckily the Mustangs’ first baseman threw the ball into shallow left field on a botched rundown, allowing Nagatomo to trot home for the Cards’ second run of the game. Cowichan threatened for the first time in the bottom of the 6th. They advanced the leadoff single to third base with one out and the #9 hitter up. He cracked a liner to left, caught by Maunahan who was playing shallow against the bottom of their order for the second out. Yuen later got Thomasson to ground out to first for the final out, as the Cards dodged a bullet and escaped the inning with their 2-0 lead intact. Cowichan managed one baserunner in the 7th, but it wasn’t enough as Yuen put a bow on his complete-game, 76-pitch gem. - JO
CARDINALS 10 CowichanValley 6 (10 innings)
With the Cowichan Valley Mustangs set to play the lowly Richmond Chuckers Sunday at home in a mother’s day affair, Lorne Lafleur (Cowichan Valley’s head coach) was throwing everything he had at the Cardinals. Looking to salvage the split at home, Lafleur sent his horse James Joyce to oppose West Coast’s own Cody Hendriks in game 2. Joyce was looking to rebound from a rough start he had last time out against the Cards where he was shelled for 7 earned runs on 6 hits and walked 4 in just under 2 innings of work. Hendriks, who against these very same Mustangs back on April 8th was tagged with the loss and the only loss this season for the Cardinals, it was safe to say that #38 was looking to build on the clinic Yuen displayed on the mound in game 1. Joyce and Hendriks, two consummate veteran 2nd year leaders on their respective teams would duke it out in this one, a theme that would constantly show itself throughout this contest.
[Round 1] Hendriks, who’s on base streak of 18 straight games in a row to begin the season was snapped last game wasted no time throwing the first haymaker at Joyce and breaking out of his mini 1-game slump at the plate driving Joyce’s first offering of the game into left field for a single. With Hendriks standing on 2nd with 1 out, the talented 5-tool vet from Coquitlam hustled over to 3rd on a wild pitch and while heading to 3rd noticed Joyce not covering home, #38 aggressively brushed by Yam in the 3rd base coaching box and without any hesitation went 2-to-Home on the wild pitch. Hendriks slid in safely and once again proved why he is a force to be reckoned with in all facets of the game. Round 1, by a unanimous vote goes to Cody Hendriks.
We jump to the bottom of the 2nd now where Hendriks was facing big lefty-stick Kaleb Freer to kick off the offensive 2nd for the Mustangs. Freer would battle Hendriks for 6 pitches before watching the 7th pitch be the one he needed to be credited with a free 80’ as Hendriks issued a venomous leadoff walk. Back-to-back singles by Branting and Battye followed the leadoff walk, the latter of the two being a very well-executed bunt that was placed perfectly in between 3 Cardinal infielders loaded the bases for Plester. Hendriks would battle back from a 3-0 count with the bases loaded and get Plester to fly out to CF, during which all baserunners moved up 80’ on the tag up. Hendriks would strike out 9-batter Poole but see leadoff stick Schure softly hit a 3-1 fastball up the middle that Giesbrecht at 2nd had no chance on, scoring 1 and making it 2-1 Mustangs after 2.
The Cards threatened in the 3rd as 10-batter McRae would hit a bullet up the middle to kick off the top of the 3rd but both McRae and Tong would be stranded in scoring position as Lefebvre would square up a Joyce offering only to see the Mustangs’ left fielder positioned perfectly for the catch. Hendriks found his offspeed in the 3rd as he retired the big boys in order 2-3-4 all going down via. the punchout. 2-1 Mustangs after 3.
5-batter Max Yuen came up to the plate to begin the 4th and forced a walk out of Joyce, with runs coming at a premium in this game Yam opted to have Suzuki lay down a SAC bunt, the 2nd year vet from New West got the bunt down advancing Yuen to 2nd. With #12 in your program but #1 in your hearts now due up with 1 out, Waters who doubled to the left-centre gap in game 1 on a 2-0 count, got ahead of Joyce 2-0 in the count and got the pitch that he was patiently waiting for. The Vancouver Minor Peewee AAA graduate didn’t miss the 2-0 offering from Joyce as he drove it to deep right-centre this time scoring Yuen with ease and knotting the ballgame up at 2s. Waters clearly not satisfied with the double noticed the outfield playing shallow on the scheduled batter Giesbrecht and with the 3rd baseman, Poole playing well-behind the bag the “wily” first-year out of Vancouver Minor took off for 3rd but the baserunning decision although planned out perfectly in #12’s mind wouldn’t pay off as he was gunned out at 3rd to end the frame. 2-2 after 4.
[Round 2] With Joyce retiring the first two Cardinals in the 5th, Hendriks was back up for his 3rd AB against Joyce today. Joyce gave in on a full count to Hendriks as the native from the Netherlands crushed a ball that rolled to the left-centre fence for a triple. Round 2 goes to Hendriks. However, Joyce would escape the jam locking up Rogers with a curveball to end the threat as a content Joyce would walk back to his dugout not before acknowledging the triple from Hendriks with a simple and classy word to his peer of “nice hit [Hendriks]”. Cowichan came out firing in their offensive half of the 5th as 3rd time through the order seemed to do the trick as leadoff hitter Schure would collect his 2nd base knock, this one a double to deep centre over the head of Tong. Hendriks would strike out the next hitter, Thomasson for the 1st out of the inning and record his 9th K of the game. A curious decision by Lafleur to bunt Tiemer advanced Schure to 3rd with 2 out and Joyce now due up. Yam made a quick visit to the mound and let Hendriks know that it was in the team’s best interest to pitch around Joyce and face a more favourable match-up on deck in Freer. [Round 3] Hendriks’ first pitch to Joyce was way outside which was the intention but the second pitch caught too much of the plate as Joyce would ground the ball into deep shortstop for Yuen who backhanded the ball and threw across the diamond. The throw from Yuen was a good one, it beat a hustling Joyce to the bag but an ill-advised jump by the Cardinal first baseman pulled him off the bag ever so slightly as Joyce would not only reach safely but bring Schure home on the play. Round 3 is awarded to Joyce. With Hendriks still pondering about the Joyce at-bat, Freer deposited a double of his own into the gap scoring Joyce and making it 3-2 Mustangs. The extra-base hit from Freer spelled the end of a decent outing from Hendriks as #38 would give way to Duncan-Wu in relief who stranded Freer on 2. 4-2 Mustangs after 5.
The Cards would get one back in the 6th as Tong would record his 1st of 3 hits in this one and advance to 2 on a Lefebvre groundout. With 2 out now and Tong still on 2nd, Suzuki who had a day that didn’t start off well striking out 2/3 times in game 1 would prove to be huge from this point onwards. The New West LL graduate would smack a first pitch double into the left-centre gap scoring Tong bringing the Cards within 1. Despite Waters given a free pass from Joyce and Cowichan forced to go to their pen in Battye, Maunahan would groundout ending the threat. What West Coast needed now was a big shut down inning from their big rested arm in Alex Duncan-Wu, keep the deficit at 1 heading into their last three outs. That’s exactly what the the Tri-City Bantam AA graduate did as an 11 pitch inning retired the Cowichan side in order setting up a masterful 7th inning.
Yam went to his bench to begin the 7th as Nagatomo came in to hit for Duncan-Wu, the move wouldn’t pan out as Nagatomo despite fouling two pitches straight back was caught looking for the 1st out of the 7th. With the Cards now down to their final 2 outs, McRae would take 3 close pitches in a quality at-bat working a walk off Battye and instantly becoming the most important baserunner of the game. And just like that, the Cards were back at the top of their lineup as Hendriks digging in looking to get himself off the hook for another loss in the pitching stat column. Hendriks got a pitch he could handle and drove the 1-0 offering from Battye into the left-centre gap, McRae was waved to 3 and a slight overrun of the ball by the Cowichan centre fielder gave Yam the opportunity to wave McRae all the way home, McRae would tie the game sliding in safely at home as Hendriks would stand on 2nd look and gesture to his 1st base dugout with great euphoria before calmly reminding himself that he was now the most important baserunner. A Rogers’ groundout moved Hendriks to 3rd with 2 out and Tong due up. The former Whalley Chief who made the move to come over to the West Coast Cardinals could not have asked to be in a bigger situation, the go-ahead run at 3rd and 2 out. The 5’4 Burnaby-native wasn’t looking to pad his ridiculous OBP this time but drop the “Greg” hammer on the Mustangs with an RBI knock. That’s exactly what #15 did as Tong would drop one over the head of Joyce at short and into left-centre field plating Hendriks making it 5-4 Cards. Tong, much like Hendriks would give O’Krafka a violent high five at 1st before shouting with jubilation towards his teammates “Greg Power!”. (Tong was using assistant coach’s Greg Miles’ 31 inch Demarini bat for this day trip as his Marucci was shattered thanks to a Hendriks’ fastball last Wednesday in a friendly scrimmage).
With Yam opting to hit for the pitcher Duncan-Wu in the top half of the 7th, he was forced to bring in a new arm and who better to trust than the Japanese southpaw in Taiki Suzuki. What the Cardinals didn’t expect was their defence which had been so immaculate for them this season to let them down in such a critical time in the ballgame, no one said it would be easy as Cowichan’s 1-2-3 hitters were due up in the offensive 7th. Schure popped the Suzuki 0-1 offering sky high in the infield where no infielder took charge, 3rd baseman Rogers was forced to attempt to catch the ball at the last second which knicked off his glove and landed in the middle of the infield putting a speedy game-tying threat at 1st in Schure. The blunders weren’t done there as Suzuki made a pickoff to 1st and caught Schure leaning the wrong way; unfortunately the move was so good he caught the Cardinal 1st baseman looking the wrong way too as the ball also knicked off the 1st baseman’s glove into right field as Schure (tying run) advanced all the way to 3rd with none out on the error. It wouldn’t take long for Cowichan to take advantage of the two crucial mistakes as a wild pitch plated Schure and tied the ballgame up at 5s. It seemed to be contagious as a routine groundball would go right through the wickets of the Cardinal second baseman as O’Krafka was left shaking his head having momentary flashbacks of the infamous error-fest game vs. White Rock Prep in 2017. With Thomasson (game-winning run) reaching 1st on the error, Yam called a infield meeting letting everyone know to take a breath and that the Mustangs still had to do 2-3 things right in order to win the game. The re-assurance and visit seemed to slow down everyone's erratic heartbeat as the Cardinals would make the play to 1 on a Tiemer SAC bunt that moved Thomasson over to 2nd with 1 out now. With 4-batter Joyce now due up and the winning run standing on 2 with 1 out, Yam wasn’t letting Joyce be the hero in this situation as Joyce was given the intentional pass to let lefty Suzuki face a better matchup in lefty-hitter Freer on deck. Lafleur wasn’t playing any games too as the experienced skipper for Cowichan opted for speed at 2 subbing Jackson in as the winning run at 2nd. Suzuki would buckle down and retire the next two batters keeping the score locked at 5s after 7 complete.
The 8th and 9th innings saw little to no action for both offences as Suzuki, Battye and Wright (new Cowichan reliever who pitched the 9th) stymied both lineups bringing the game into the 10th and opening it up for international tie-breaking rules. Lorne Lafleur and his Cowichan team were definitely happy in the position they were in being the last bats but were stunned when they saw two red Cardinal jerseys jogging to 1st and 2nd. After a lengthy discussion at the 3rd base dugout between Yam, Lafleur and the two umpires, Yam let all parties know that rules state the 10th inning onwards was the fantastic introduction of the international rules. This would be both team's first taste of international rules this year but Yam is 2-0 overall in his head coaching career when going to international rules both victories coming on the road. Yam couldn’t have asked for 2 better runners on base with Hendriks at 2nd and Rogers at 1st with none out. Yam called for Tong to execute a fake bunt to kick off the 10th just to see how Cowichan would play their defense. A called strike to Tong on the fake bunt and the infield didn’t move an inch, with that in mind Yam had Tong execute a SAC bunt where a beautiful bunt made Wright (Cowichan’s reliever) field the bunt and the only play was to 3rd where he overshot his 3rd baseman plating Hendriks (go-ahead run) on the error and moving both Rogers and Tong into scoring position. The next five batters that followed Tong would all attempt a SAC bunt during their at-bat, with Maunahan the only one successfully getting the bunt down crediting him with an RBI on the SAC bunt. Despite only one successful bunt of the 5 batters that squared, the attempts seem to throw off Wright on the mound as the
"price was not wright", issuing 3 wild pitches and 2 walks that plated 5 Cardinal runs including Rogers who executed a textbook head first slide at home on a wild pitch scoring what would be the eventual game-winning run. 5 Cardinal runs and just like that Suzuki was now the pitcher of record and looking to pick up his second win of the young season. Despite another error by the Cardinal defence leading to a Mustangs lone run, Suzuki would get Branting to groundout to Waters at 2nd for the final out and everyone could finally take a breath. Tong and Hendriks who were both instrumental in the GM2 win (3 hits apiece) shook it up with their teammates on Cowichan's home turf. It's worth mentioning that Suzuki was lights out in relief going 4 innings picking up the win allowing 1 run (unearned) not allowing a hit and striking out 4, the potent left-handed arm of Suzuki also raised his strike % this season to a ridiculous 77% (Of 169 pitches thrown this season for Suzuki, 130 of them have been for strikes). - LY
Wow! What a game as the Cards improved to 13-1 in league play and 19-1 overall this season still trying to keep pace with the now 16-0 Delta Tigers. The 4-game weekend vs. those pesky Frick led Delta Tigers is slowly creeping up and just about everyone has their calendars marked for that 4-game set. For now, the Cardinals take aim at the annual Richmond Queen Victoria Invitational that starts Thursday vs. the 2017 Bantam Prep Champion North Shore Twins. A second place finish isn’t in the cards for the Cards as they are eager to improve on that and looking to take home their second tournament win in as many chances.