The Yorkton Bantam ‘AA’ Cardinals welcomed the always dangerous Swift Current Indians to town for a four game weekend series that included a doubleheader on both Saturday and Sunday at Yorkton’s Jubilee Park (bantam diamond).
And while the four game series didn’t start or end as well as the Cardinals had hoped, they opened the series with the Indians by dropping Game One 10-0 on Saturday and rounded it out by losing 11-1 on Sunday in Game Four, it was the two middle games of the four game set that proved fruitful for the Bantam Cardinals.
That’s because the Cards showed exactly what they were capable of, dismantling Swift Current 13-5 in Game Two and 9-5 in Game Three to secure their first two wins in the Regina Bantam ‘AAA’ Baseball League.
Ashton Shewchuk took to the mound for the Cardinals in Game One and shouldered the loss, going 3.1 innings deep while surrendering six runs on five walks and six hits.
It really seemed as if the Yorkton side just wasn’t prepared for the opening game of the series on Saturday as the bats also struggled, managing just two singles, one each for Zachary Goulden-Maddin (1-for-2) and Cameron Zamonski (1-for-1) while just one other Cardinal, Owen Shirtliffe (0-for-1, walk), reached base in Game One.
Game Two was a different story, however, as the Bantam Cardinals scored three in the first, two in the second and one in the third, before exploding for four runs in the fourth inning. Swift Current also scored early with one in the first, three in the third and one in the fourth, however the Cardinals bullpen shut the Indians down for the rest of the game.
Yorkton added three more runs, one in the fifth and two in the sixth, to take Game Two in convincing fashion, 13-5 over the Swift Current Indians.
Owen Shirtliffe picked up his first win of the season, giving up just five runs over four innings on six hits and four walks while striking out one.
The bullpen also put forth an admirable effort with Goulden-Maddin going two strong innings and Kaito Farquharson tossing one scoreless frame.
Jordan Evans led the Cardinals offence in Game Two with an impressive 3-for-4 effort at the dish, while Ashton Shewchuk also had a strong game at the plate with a 2-for-3 performance including a walk and three runs scored.
But perhaps the most impressive hit for the Cards in Game Two was a Grady Hawkins (2-for-4, two K’s) RBI triple that split the gap in the outfield and went all the way to the wall, allowing Jordan Evans to score from second in the third inning with the eventual game winning run.
The two teams reversed roles on Sunday with Swift Current assuming the role of home team despite playing on foreign territory.
However it was the Yorkton Bantam ‘AA’ Cardinals, fresh off of their first win of the season, that kept the momentum going, scoring a pair of runs in the first and four more in the third to take a 6-0 lead into the fourth inning before Swift Current finally found the scoreboard to make it 6-1.
The two teams traded a pair of runs in the fifth inning to make it 8-3 in favour of Yorkton before the Cardinals added one more in the top of the sixth to make it 9-3.
A pair of Indian runs in the bottom of the seven made it 9-5, however that’s as close as Swift Current would get as the Yorkton Cardinals secured their second win of the series to guarantee themselves at least a split.
Picking up the win for the Cardinals and evening up his record at 1-1 was Kaito Farquharson, who went 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks while striking out seven Indian batters.
Farquharson also helped out his own cause, going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a single while scoring a pair of runs.
Zachary Goulden-Maddin also had a strong performance in Game Three of the four game set. Goulden-Maddin was 1-for-2 with a single, a walk and a hit by pitch while scoring three runs.
But while Game Two and Three saw strong performances by the entire Cardinals squad, Game Four saw a return to Game One form as the Cardinals fell behind very early and could not get anything going offensively. The result, an 11-1 setback and a series split with the Swift Current Indians.
Jordan Evans got the nod for Kevin Shirtliffe’s squad in the final game of the series and it was clear from the onset of the game that he did not have his best stuff.
Evans lasted just one inning, giving up five earned runs on three hits and four walks while striking out two before turning the ball over to reliever Montana Johnson.
Johnson struck out the first batter he faced in the second inning before running into trouble. A Swift Current single was followed up by a flyout to left field and it looked like Johnson would get out of the second inning unscathed, however four straight walks and a couple wild pitches resulted in three more Indian runs and by the end of the second inning Swift Current had an 8-1 lead.
Three more Indian runs, one each in the third, fourth and fifth, led to Swift Current’s second mercy-rule victory of the series; this time in the form of an 11-1 score.
While losing two games in mercy-rule fashion does wave some red flags, Bantam ‘AA’ Cardinals head coach Kevin Shirtliffe feels he is still happy with the way things went in the four game series. “At the end of the day I’m happy with the split,” offered the Cards bench boss. “Swift Current is a tough team. They’ve got a good ball program there and they always come forward with good teams.
“That said, it was a bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde weekend for us. First game I think we didn’t bring the effort we needed to play. It was a pretty lacklustre performance by our team. Games two and three we really turned it around and played hard and this last game the pitchers were just really struggling with command. We ended up putting a lot of base runners on and walking runs in which put us in a hole that we couldn’t get out of.”
Shirtliffe also mentioned that he feels as if the effort, or lack thereof, in the fourth game was largely due to fatigue; his team was simply not conditioned enough for that many games in such a short period of time. “It’s testing on the conditioning overall, not just physically but mentally. By the end of the fourth game of the weekend it’s tough to stay focused and know the situation and do your job.” He then added that his team has to get used to it, however, as they’ve got plenty of four game series on their schedule.
The next action for the Yorkton Bantam ‘AA’ Cardinals will be against the Weyburn Beavers in Weyburn.
First pitch for Game One will be 1:00p.m. with Game Two set to start at 4:00pm.