Cardinals Close Out Month of May with 4 Game Sweep of Cloverdale and Kamloops; West Coast Improves to 17-1 in League Play with 4-Game Weekend vs. Delta Orange on the Horizon
Posted May 27, 2018
The West Coast Cardinals were looking to sweep their 2nd four-game weekend in as many tries as they would got paid a visit by the Cloverdale Spurs and Kamloops Riverdogs respectively this past weekend. It wasn't all smooth sailing but the Cardinals scored 11 runs exactly every game this weekend and ultimately swept the weekend to keep pace with the now 19-0 Delta Orange Tigers with a pivotal 4-game set just around the corner with the aforementioned Tigers.
Cloverdale 7 CARDINALS 11
Cloverdale starting pitcher Reid got roughed up right out of the gate. The first out was a loud one – Hendriks lined one right at the left fielder to lead off the bottom of the 1st. The next five batters all reached base safely. With two runners on, Lefebvre creamed the ball into left, this time the Spurs’ left fielder wasn’t up to the task, as he couldn’t field the ball cleanly off the hop and let it get by him for a 2 RBI triple. With Lefebvre standing on third, Suzuki would bunt the offering from Reid. The ball was deadened just a tad too much, Lefebvre had to turn back after scampering halfway towards home plate and couldn’t score on the play, but Suzuki still made it to first thanks to his blazing speed. Maunahan struck out with the bases loaded for out #2, but there was still a lot of damage to be done. Nagatomo pulled an RBI single through the left side, Giesbrecht walked in a run, then McRae turned the lineup over with a 2 RBI single up the middle, making it 6-0 Cards. A pair of singles later from Hendriks and Rogers and the Cards led 9-0 in the first. Reid finally got out of the jam by getting Tong to pop out, and that would be it for him, needing 50 pitches to get through a disastrous inning. First-year Adam Vulcano was solid in relief for the Spurs. He pitched the next five innings, allowing one in the 3rd and one in the 4th, doing all that he could to keep his team’s slim chances of coming back against Yuen alive. You would think with a 10-0 lead heading into the top of the 4th that Yuen would be a good bet to lock things down and secure a mercy win... but the Spurs had no intentions of going down easily.
Cloverdale kicked off the 4th with back-to-back singles, both runners moving up on a wild pitch to clean-up hitter DeJong. Yuen would retire him on a soft comebacker, keeping both runners at bay for a moment. The next pitch to daunting first-year Dobrowolsky was a no-doubter over the fence in right-centre field, a three-run shot to cut the deficit to seven runs. Up next was Barrick, who worked the count to 2-2 before teeing off on a cutter that just didn't "cut", depositing it in the trees behind left centre – back-to-back home runs! Yuen would be done for the day after stranding a couple of runners in the 5th. He allowed 10 hits in his five innings of work, accounting for one third of his hit total for the entire season. Heilker was given the opportunity to lock down the Cards’ seven-run lead in the 6th. After walking the leadoff batter on four pitches, he got Barrick to fly out to right for the first out. A single and hit-by-pitch later, the bases were loaded for #9 batter McPherson, who laid down a good bunt that Heilker couldn’t field off the mound, runners safe all around and a run scoring to make it 11-5. Now it was up to Suzuki to shut the door and get the final five outs for the Cards. His first offering went for a 2 RBI single, bringing the Spurs within just four runs. Suzuki would clamp down and pick up two huge strikeouts to end a three-run 6th. The 7th went by more smoothly, Suzuki needing only 8 pitches to pick up the last three outs, two of which came on a classic 6-4-3 double play turned by veteran middle-infielders Hendriks and Yuen. Tip of the cap to the boys from Cloverdale, who battled back from an early 10-0 hole and made this one close. They outhit the Cards 14-12, but it was the Cards outscoring them 11-7 in game 1. - JO
Cloverdale 9 CARDINALS 11
The back end of the double-header saw the Cards battling from behind this time. First-year southpaw McRae got his second start of the season, but only lasted an inning and a third. Cloverdale took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st, with Barrick cashing in Adam Vulcano with a one-hopper off the fence in right-centre. Then in the 2nd, a hit-by-pitch, E6 and a walk sparked a big inning for the Spurs. McRae battled Bryant at the plate before Bryant eventually drove in the first run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to centre field. McRae fell behind the #10 hitter Punzalan 2-0, then was replaced by Duncan-Wu on the mound. Punzalan would walk on four pitches, loading the bases for leadoff hitter Reid, who struck out for the second consecutive time for the second out of the inning. Next up was Adam Vulcano, he picked up 2 RBIs on a knock up the middle, his fourth of the day. The Spurs made it 5-0 as a throw to second base on a steal attempt ended up in centre field and Punzalan jogged home from third. Having dug themselves a sizeable hole, the Cards’ bats seemed unfazed. They responded with two runs in the 2nd, placing runners on second and third with one out. Maunahan reached on a dropped third strike and would score on a wild pitch, while Waters found a hole in the right-centre gap and scored on an RBI single by McRae. What the Cards needed now was a clean top of the 3rd to get right back on the sticks and keep chipping away, but it was anything but clean. They gave up three runs on just one hit, allowing those three to reach on a dropped third strike, E4 and a walk. #8 batter Thind lined one past the Cards’ drawn in infield to increase the Spurs’ lead to 8-2. The Cards still refused to give up, getting one of those runs back in their half of the 3rd. Hendriks got on with a single, moved up on a walk to Rogers, then stole third, making it possible for Yuen to bring him home on a sacrifice fly to centre. Maunahan was called upon to pitch the 4th, and he struggled to find the zone in his only inning of work. He threw five more balls than strikes in the inning, managing to escape with just one run allowed and a pair of runners left on base, both of which were walked. The Cards couldn’t cash in a one-out single by Waters in the 4th, as they trailed 9-3 after four complete.
Waters took control of the mound in the 5th, becoming the Cards’ fourth different pitcher of the game and the first to deal a scoreless inning. The Cards’ bats hadn’t been totally quieted by Spurs pitcher Aaron Vulcano through four innings, but they’d still yet to come up with that big inning that they so desperately needed. The first of a couple big innings started with Nagatomo wearing one in the kneecap. With a hobbling Nagatomo standing on first, Hendriks yanked a towering shot down the left field line, short-hopping the fence for just a single because Nagatomo couldn’t advance to third after getting hit in the knee. Cards’ manager Yam had a re-entry available for Nagatomo, but elected not to burn him still down by six, a decision that would pay off later in the game. Nagatomo appeared to be regaining strength with every pitch, as he was able to move up to third on a pass ball and score on the subsequent sacrifice fly from Rogers. After Vulcano walked Yuen and plunked Lefebvre, he was pulled and Jung was thrust into a bases loaded, one-out situation. The first pitch to Suzuki sailed to the backstop, allowing Hendriks to hustle home and bring the Cards within four. Suzuki then hit a frozen rope straight to the Spurs’ right-fielder for the second out of the inning, but Yuen was caught too far down the baseline and could not tag up and score from third. A potentially fatal, mental error was erased by a clutch two-out, 2 RBI single by Maunahan, capping off a four-run inning that made it 9-7 Cloverdale through five innings. Waters was up to the task once again in the top of the 6th, tossing another zero up on the board and making the comeback possible. Giesbrecht started the rally in the 6th by working the count full before depositing one into right for a leadoff single. McRae was walked on four pitches, two of which were pass balls that granted Giesbrecht free passage to third. Nagatomo came up once again and hit a groundball to shortstop, the throw to first was in the dirt and couldn’t be corralled by the first baseman for an out – everybody was safe and the tying run was now standing on third with nobody out. This is where conserving Duncan-Wu as a pinch-runner came into play, as he was re-entered for Nagatomo and now represented the go-ahead run as opposed to the 9-4 run. After Hendriks watched strike three go by for the first out, Rogers wasted no time in putting the ball in play, another ground ball to shortstop. The throw came home this time, once again bounced to the catcher behind the plate. He made the catch, but thinking it was a force play, failed to tag the sliding McRae who came home to knot the game at 9 runs apiece. The Cards grabbed the lead one pitch later as Yuen laid down a perfect bunt, cashing in Duncan-Wu from third and advancing Rogers to third. Rogers added an insurance run, scoring on Lefebvre’s high chopper directly over third base that he beat out for an RBI infield single. The Cards erased a six-run deficit in just two innings, storming back to take an 11-9 lead with a chance to lock up the sweep of the Spurs in the 7th . Suzuki was lights out in picking up his third save of the season, Waters earning the win in a 2 ½ hour-long barnburner. The Cards were winners once again, by a score of 11-9. - JO
Kamloops 1 CARDINALS 11 (6 innings)
The Cards were looking for some length from Hendriks on the bump today after exhausting several arms in Saturday’s double-header. He was successful in dealing with the Riverdogs’ lineup in league action a month ago, going five complete innings without allowing a run. Following a scoreless top of the 1st, he would go straight to work with the stick, cranking a high fastball to the left field fence for a leadoff double. Rogers was hit by a pitch and Tong drew a walk to load the bases for Lefebvre. He knocked in Hendriks on a fielder’s choice, setting up runners at 1st and 3rd with one out. Lefebvre would take two easily, but he and Rogers would both be left on after two consecutive strikeouts ended the inning. Waters led off the bottom of the 2nd with a walk, advancing to third on a costly throwing error from Kamloops catcher Mitchell Coxon. This would allow Giesbrecht to come through with another perfect bunt, which gave the Cards a 2-0 lead after two complete. Hendriks delivered a 1-2-3 3rd inning with a little help from his Dutch buddy Heilker, who fully extended himself to snare a soft liner in foul territory over by third base for the third out of the inning. Then in the bottom half, the wheels came flying off for Riverdogs’ southpaw Bradley. He walked 5 batters and surrendered 4 singles in the inning, all of which were directed through the left side of the infield. Lefebvre, Yuen, Maunahan and Giesbrecht each tallied an RBI in the inning, and Hendriks cashed in a pair to make it 9-0 for the Cards, capping off a 7-run inning and bouncing Bradley from the game. He fell short of three complete innings pitched, yet threw a total of 91 pitches in his appearance. Five of the eight outs that he recorded were strikeouts of the Cards’ left-handed bats, who had a hard time figuring out Bradley, contrary to the rest of the Cards’ lineup. The Coxon twins helped Kamloops get on the board in the 4th, smacking back-to-back two-out singles and plating a run on a wild pitch. Mitch Coxon was doing it all in this one, scrapping the catcher’s gear and coming straight in for a relief appearance. He quieted the Cards’ bats through 2 1/3, doing his best to avoid a mercy-rule defeat. However, the heart of the Cards’ order strung together four straight base hits to bring home two more runs, ensuring the Riverdogs would not have a chance to rally in the 7th. Hendriks gave the Cards the innings they needed on their way to a game 1 win, an 11-1, 6-inning mercy. - JO
Kamloops 1 CARDINALS 11 (6 innings)
One more win to go to secure another 4-game weekend sweep for the Cards and keep pace with the league-leading Delta Tigers. The final score was identical to game 1, but in reality this was a much tighter game than the first. It started with a BANG – literally. Hendriks destroyed starting pitcher Coyle’s 3-2 offering and watched it soar into the trees in left-centre field for the first home run of his West Coast career. This is now back-to-back years that a West Coast player has taken Coyle yard (Sugi - 2017 ; Hendriks - 2018). Rogers and Tong followed that up with a pair of singles, Tong driving in Rogers to make it 2-0 after the 1st. Kamloops’ most threatening offensive inning of the day came in the top of the 3rd. With runners on first and third and one run already in, it was Mitchell Coxon at the plate with a chance to knot the game at 2, maybe even give his team a lead. The runner at first took off on the first pitch of the AB, only to be sent back to first because the pitch was fouled off. Two pitches later, R1 took off a second time as Coxon lined the pitch straight at Maunahan in right field, who came up throwing and beat R1 back to the bag for a clutch inning-ending double play! What would have been an easy sacrifice play to level the score turned into a major blunder for the Riverdogs by not successfully advancing R1 to second. Still 2-1 in the bottom of the 4th, Nagatomo executed the Cards’ second squeeze bunt of the day, making it 3-1 as well as advancing another runner to third with only one out. Right behind Nagatomo was Giesbrecht and the squeeze was on once again. Sadly, coach O’Krafka seems to have a thing for robbing Giesbrecht of RBIs. Earlier this season, he held up a runner at third on a two-out base hit from Giesbrecht – this time he urged Waters to try to score on a pass ball despite the call for a squeeze and Waters was tagged out at the plate, denying Giesbrecht of another RBI opportunity. The big inning for the Cards came in the 5th this time, aided by some poorly timed errors by Kamloops’ defense. They scored six runs on just three hits in the inning, the most notable being a two-out RBI double by Maunahan. After him came Waters, who chopped a routine groundball to third base that should’ve been retired the side, but the throw to first was way off, getting by the first baseman and resulting in an additional three unearned runs to come home in the inning. Then in the 6th, the top of the Cards’ order loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk. Hendriks scored on sac fly from Lefebvre, then Rogers scored on a sac fly from Heilker and that was the ball game – another mercy victory. Big props go out to Duncan-Wu of the Cards, providing great length just as Hendriks did in the first game. It was without a doubt his best outing in May, going six strong innings only walking one, pitching to contact down in the zone and letting his defense take care of the rest. The Cards completed the sweep with their fourth straight 11-run performance, running their league record to an astounding 17-1 and an even better 27-2 overall record this season. - JO