The playoffs were out of reach for Yorkton, but the Cardinals put in a good final week in the Western Major Baseball League, completing their longest winning streak of the season; four-games, with a 6-5 win at Jubilee Park Monday.
The win also made Cardinal history as Liam Goodall smacked what coaches and fans were calling the franchise’s first walk off home run to give Yorkton the edge over Western Major Baseball League rival Melville who finished atop the league’s East Division.
Yorkton had taken a lead in the fifth inning with four runs, only to have Melville score one in the sixth and three in the seventh to knot the score.
The Cardinals regained a one-run lead with a run in the bottom of the seventh, only to have the Mills tie the game in the eighth, setting up Goodall’s ninth inning heroics.
David Toth started the game for Yorkton with 6.1 innings over which he gave up six runs, and four runs, all of them earned.
Kevin Mizzell earned the win based on the final 1.1 innings of work.
Goodall said he wasn’t looking for a long ball, but he was sitting on a certain pitch.
“I was looking for a fastball that I could handle,” he said, adding as far as going deep, “I don’t hit a lot of home runs.” It was his second home run of the campaign.
Goodall said the win was nice as it gave the Cardinals a strong finish to a season where they missed the playoffs, the fourth straight last place finish for the team.
Asked why the team faltered at times through the season, Goodall said that was not an easy question to answer.
“It’s tough to say. Baseball’s a funny game,” he offered. “Things didn’t always go our way.”
Cardinal head coach Bill Sobkow said the late season winning streak at least showed the team had heart.
“We started to play very good baseball the last week,” he said. “… We could see what it takes to get some real wins in this league.”
That said the Cardinals had a tough road down the stretch with two in Swift Current and two in Medicine Hat, both division winners. Sobkow said the Cardinals have not traditionally done well in either centre, pointing back to the last big win in Swift Current being a three-hit pitching performance by Dan Runzler in 2005. Runzler would go to play in the majors.
Sobkow was asked where the Cardinals got off track through the year? He was quick to point to two games, as “turning points” for the Cardinals.
The first was a game against Lethbridge.
“The umpires had a totally bad day,” said Sobkow, adding several of the questionable calls all went the Bulls way. He said he knows it wasn’t intentional on the umpires part, but it still contributed to a key loss.
Then there was a ninth inning call at Jubilee Park against Melville. The Cardinals had looked like they had scored the tying run, on an infield hit, only to have him called out at first.
“It would have been a tie game,” said Sobkow, adding “we could have won that game.”
Sobkow said both games proved big losses in a season when a couple more wins might have meant a visit to the playoffs.
The four-straight wins left the Cardinals with a 16-30 record on the season, for a .348 winning percentage, 12-games back of first place Melville, who finished six-games up on Regina, and 10 better than third place Weyburn.
So what do the Cardinals need to do in 2014 to make the playoffs?
Sobkow said it will start by again having a good pitching staff. He said he plans to return as head coach next season, and will look for quality assistants like John McVey and Trevor Lishanko.
As for players, Sobkow said returnees from this year squad could be a good start, adding he would not mind “if 85 per cent of them applied to come back.”
The week that was
Sunday night it was a slugfest that went 10 innings before the Cardinals salted away a 12-11 win.
Taylor Metzger had the win pitching the 10th. He was Yorkton’s fifth pitcher of the night, after RJ Page started and went five innings.
Alnardo Rodriquez popped his first home run of the season for Yorkton to go along with two RBIs.
McLeod had a four-hit night on five at-bats, scoring two runs and having two RBIs.
Thursday three Cardinal pitchers combined to four-hit Weyburn and their way to a 2-0 shut-out victory.
Shaniel Rivera started and earned the win on seven innings, of four-hit ball.
Kody Rock threw a scoreless eighth, with Estrada doing the same in the ninth to pick up the save.
Both Mike Meany and Kevin McLeod picked up their 19th RBIs of the campaign.
Last Thursday Saskatoon visited Jubilee Park, and took a one-run lead in the fourth inning.
The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth, only to have the Yellow Jackets knot the score in the top of the seventh.
Yorkton responded with what would prove the game-winner in the seventh for a 3-2 win.
Jeff Pool was the winning pitcher with eight innings of work, allowing nine hits, and two earned runs.
Chris Estrada earned the save pitching a scoreless ninth.
Jared Locke took the loss for Saskatoon based on 6.1 innings on work giving up all three Cardinal wins, two of those earned. He struck out 10.