The Yorkton R. Miller’s Midget ‘AA’ Cardinals wrapped up their first 2014 SPBL campaign in the last three seasons this past weekend as hosts of the 2014 SPBL ‘AA’ playoffs.
The Cardinals welcomed seven other teams to Yorkton, including: The Muenster Red Sox, Melville Millionaires and Regina Pacers, who joined Yorkton in Pool A and the Moose Mountain Mavericks, Regina Angels, Northeast Red Sox and Lumsden Cubs in Pool B.
Yorkton went 2-1 in round-robin play, opening the tournament up with a lopsided 15-4 victory over the Melville Millionaires, before dropping the Regina Pacers 8-2.
Yorkton’s final round-robin game was against Muenster, which they lost 12-11 to finish the round-robin portion at 2-1. Muenster finished first at 3-0, while Regina was third (1-2) and Melville (0-3) was last.
In the other pool it was Northeast (3-0) in first, Moose Mountain (2-1) in second, while the Regina Angels (1-2) finished third and the Lumsden Cubs (0-3) were fourth.
The 2-1 record meant that the Cardinals had to face the regular season champion Northeast Red Sox in the semi-final game, while Muenster and Moose Mountain squared off in the other semi-final.
An 11-run sixth inning propelled the Yorkton R. Miller’s Cardinals to a 15-4 victory over the Melville Millionaires on Day One.
Caleb Bymak started Game One against Melville but struggled with his command. Over 1.1 innings of work Bymak walked one, hit another and surrendered two hits. He also conceded two earned runs before handing the ball over to Jordan Bieber.
Bieber calmed things down for Yorkton as soon as he took the mound, cruising through 2.2 innings and surrendering just one run on two hits while striking out four before the 40-pitch pitch count got the better of him, meaning Tyson Black came out of the bullpen in relief.
Black, like Bymak, seemed to struggle in Game One but still managed to hold the Mils to just one run on two walks and two hits before the dreaded pitch count bounced him from the mound with two outs in the top of the sixth in favour of Mason Kelley.
The hard throwing Kelley needed just three pitches to get the final out of the inning before the sixth inning onslaught ended Melville’s hopes of a victory.
Matt Wilgosh led the Cardinals offence in Game One with a 3-for-4, one double, one RBI game, while both Mason Kelley (2-for-5, double) and Peyton Perepeluk (2-for-5, double) had three RBIs in the big opening day win.
But while the 15-4 win certainly is huge, it’s not a clear indication of how the game actually went. It was actually much closer than the score-line indicated. “It was 4-4 in the sixth and we opened it up,’ mentioned midget Cardinals assistant coach Stefan Bymak. “We went at them, got the ball rolling, kept it rolling and we were able to finish it off in the sixth inning there.
“But it was much closer than the score shows.”
The Yorkton R. Miller’s Midget ‘AA’ Cardinals picked up right where they left off on Saturday, jumping out to an early lead thanks in large part to back-to-back triples by Mason Kelley and Tyson Black and never looked back, crushing the Regina Pacers 8-2 to move to 2-0 in round-robin play.
The birthday boy Jordan Bieber picked up the win in Game Two, silencing the Pacers bats for 6.1 innings while giving up two runs, just one earned, on three hits and five walks while striking out seven.
Tyson Black continued his strong start offensively to lead the potent Cardinal offence. Black drove in five of Yorkton’s eight runs with a 2-for-4, one triple performance. Bieber, who also went 2-for-4, drove in a pair of runs while Caleb Bymak (1-for-3, walk) picked up the other RBI in the win.
However, the key to the game was the back-to-back triples to start the game; Proof that the Cardinals bats are on fire, all the while carrying the momentum over from Game One. “We came out swinging in the bottom of the first and Mason Kelley hit a triple then Tyson (Black) followed it up with another triple,” mentioned Stefan Bymak. “Then we hit a double and the bats came alive. The momentum got rolling and we were able to carry it into this game.”
But coach Bymak also felt that his starting pitcher deserved acknowledgement, especially after he put out the Mils fire in Game One, just one day before his Game Two start. “Jordan pitched really well yesterday against Melville too. Caleb was struggling a bit and Jordan came in and picked him up, did really well and just carried it over to today,” offered Bymak, continuing, “It was his birthday today and he threw a gem out there.
“He pitched very well and we’re in good shape.”
The 8-2 win meant that Yorkton had a chance at finishing first in the pool and avoiding the powerful Northeast Red Sox. All they needed to do was beat the Muenster Red Sox and they would claim top spot in Pool A for the knockout portion of the tournament.
And things looked good early on as Yorkton led much of the way, carrying a 7-5 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. But that’s when Muenster’s powerful bats finally woke up, chasing Yorkton starter Shawn Pasiechnik (5.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 2 K) from the game and causing the Cardinals bench boss Tony Black to call reliever Jake Holinaty in from the outfield.
Holinaty struggled mightily, giving up three earned runs on two hits and a walk while failing to record an out before being replaced by Dylan Bourget, who gave up one earned run on two hits while striking out one batter over two thirds of an inning.
Suddenly trailing 12-7 heading into the final inning it would be understandable if the Yorkton R. Miller’s Cardinals simply keeled over and died.
But instead they rallied, scoring four runs in the top of the seventh to make it 12-11 before Muenster managed to record the third and final out of the inning, narrowly avoiding a completed Cardinal comeback.
Tyson Black once again led the Cardinals offence, but this time in a loss. Black went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI, while Mason Kelley also went 4-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.
Matt Wilgosh and Jordan Bieber both had three hit games. Wilgosh went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI while Bieber picked up an RBI of his own with a 3-for-5 performance.
And while they lost 12-11, assistant coach Stefan Bymak still felt his team put forth a strong effort, especially against a veteran-laden Muenster squad. “Shawn Pasiechnik started and he threw well. He kept them in check and we had a lead through the good part of the game,” he said. “But that Muenster team can hit, they’re a veteran team made up of quite a few 18-year-olds and they swing the bat extremely well and kind of eventually got to our pitching.
“We kept right there with them though. They scored seven runs in the sixth and we answered back and got to within one in the top of the seventh.”
The loss meant that Yorkton finished second in their Pool and would have to face a Northeast Red Sox team on Sunday who ran roughshod through their Pool, beating Lumsden 17-0, before crushing Moose Mountain 18-2 and Regina 9-1.
The Yorkton R. Miller’s Cardinals faced a daunting task on Sunday morning in the form of the top ranked Northeast Red Sox; a team that finished atop the regular season standings with a 16-2 record (both losses to Muenster) and a team that had outscored their playoff opponents 44-3 to this point.
But apparently someone forgot to tell Yorkton that they weren’t supposed to be competitive in this game, because the Cardinals came out strong, scoring a pair of runs early to take the lead before turning to the talented arm of first year midget ace Tyson Black.
Black kept the powerful Red Sox offence at bay for much of the game, however an error riddled sixth inning proved to be Yorkton’s undoing.
Offensively the Cardinals looked good. They entered the sixth inning leading 3-2 but quickly scored. Unfortunately, however, their inexperience got the better of them as they ran themselves out of an inning as Black was thrown out at third while Matt Wilgosh was caught at second base to end the inning.
The two base running errors, errors that had, they not happened, would have resulted in more Yorkton runs, seemed to deflate the Cardinals and their defence, which had been strong up until that point, resulting in three Northeast runs and a 5-4 Red Sox lead after six innings of play.
Northeast proved why they were the class of the league in the regular season by buckling down and keeping the Cardinals from scoring in the top of the seventh to grab victory from the jaws of defeat and eliminate the Yorkton R. Miller’s Cardinals from ‘A’ Side playoffs.
However assistant coach Stefan Bymak opted to look at the brighter side of the loss, acknowledging the fact that his was the only team to hang around with Northeast, despite having a much younger squad than anyone else in the tournament. “They’re a really strong team. They could probably compete really well in the triple-A league but we were right there with them,” said Bymak. “We had them where we wanted them but they’re a veteran club, they’re made up of a bunch of third year players and they don’t make many mistakes. We made some mistakes, but we’re a very young team with one third year.
The final game of the tournament for the Yorkton R. Miller’s Cardinals was the third place game where they faced off against the Moose Mountain Mavericks.
Throughout the season the Mavericks have had the Cardinals’ number, beating them by scores of 9-2, 11-6 and 10-8.
That did not change on Sunday, as Moose Mountain handed Yorkton a 15-7 loss to give the Cardinals a fourth place finish in the SPBL ‘AA’ playoffs.
Caleb Bymak shouldered the loss in the third place game. Bymak surrendered seven runs, just three earned, on eight hits and a walk over 4.1 innings of work in which he struck out seven batters.
Tyson Black wrapped up his strong tournament with a 2-for-4, one RBI day while Matt Wilgosh’s 2-for-5, three RBI performance was the highlight of the Cardinals offence in their final game of the tournament.
The Yorkton R. Miller’s Midget ‘AA’ Cardinals get set to host their third tournament in a row this upcoming weekend as they welcome 10 other teams from around the province for Midget ‘AA’ Provincials.
Joining Yorkton in Pool ‘A’ will be the Regina Pacers, Regina Buffalos, Swift Current Indians, Saskatoon A’s and Prince Albert Royals.
Pool ‘B’ will see the Regina Sox battle the Northeast Red Sox, Moose Jaw Canucks, Saskatoon Braves and Weyburn Beavers.
The Midget Cardinals’ first game will be Friday, July 25 when they play the Regina Buffalos at 1:00pm.
The Midget Cards will then play Prince Albert at 6:30pm Friday and the Regina Pacers 6:00pm Saturday before wrapping up the round-robin with a 10:30am game against the Saskatoon A’s on Sunday.