The Yorkton Cardinals first visit to the Western Major Baseball League playoffs in five seasons was a short-lived one.
The Cardinals stumbled into the playoffs going 3-7 over their final 10 games, and finished the season with only a .413 winning percentage based on a record of 19-27 and third spot in the WMBL East Division, 11 games back of Regina. Weyburn finished second 10 games back of the Sox.
Yorkton’s third place finish put them in a best-of-five set with Regina to open the playoffs.
The series was to start Friday in Regina, but the opening game was postponed until Saturday due to weather.
The Cardinals probably wish the postponement could have been longer as the Red Sox laid on an old-fashioned whooping Saturday.
The Red Sox scored two in the third and never looked back, scoring 16 runs including nine in the seventh before Yorkton even got on the board.
The Cardinals would plate two runs in the eighth to make it a 16-2 final.
Jeff Pool started for the Cards, going six innings to be tagged with the loss after surrendering nine hits, and seven runs, six of those earned, while also striking out 10.
“The first one (game) sort of caught us by surprise,” said Cardinal coach John McVey, adding “we felt ready to go,” but the day delay in the series start seemed to affect them.
“And Regina came out and handled business.”
Sunday in game two of the best-of-five, again in Regina, Red Sox starter Justin Blue would hold Yorkton to only four hits through seven innings of work, and one run, not earned. Regina relievers would not surrender a hit, or a walk, in two frames of service.
Jamie Whitehead would toe the rubber to start the game for Yorkton. He would toss five innings, allowing nine hits and three earned runs in taking the loss in the 3-1 contest.
The teams hooked up for game three at Jubilee Park in Yorkton Monday.
Regina scored twice in the second inning, then added two more in the fourth, before Kameron Mizzell launched a two-run home run in the home-half of the same inning.
But that was the end of scoring and the Sox would complete the three-game sweep of the Cardinals.
Cole Roark would take the loss as the Yorkton starter, throwing seven innings and giving up 10 hits and four runs, two of those earned, while striking out eight.
McVey said the Cardinals put up a better effort in games two and three.
“The last two games the guys fought and scrapped. It just didn’t happen for us,” he said.
In Monday’s loss McVey said had a couple of balls found holes, the game could have been tied.
“The baseball gods weren’t with us for whatever reason,” he lamented.
Leading the effort in the playoffs were the seniors.
“You couldn’t ask for more from these guys,” offered McVey, who said all season long the senior players have led by example.
“The seniors have really got a special place in my heart.”
McVey said while a win in the playoffs would have been big, the Cardinals are making strides. He said given the team’s recent lack of success the team is “in a rebuilding process.”
While a summer league sees a lot of player turn over season-to-season, McVey said he still believes it is a three-year process for the Cardinals, adding “we’re right where we need to be.” He noted the team missed the playoffs but got close in 2013, and have now made the playoffs in 2014, and are poised to take it the next step in 2015.
The door is open to any Cardinal still eligible for the WMBL to return to help build the base to take another step as a team, said McVey.
“You try to get returnees,” he said, adding he hopes players don’t forget their summer baseball home. “… It really is a special thing.
During the interview McVey said “we” every time he talked of the team. So does he expect to be back next summer?
Noting he has just accepted a new job, it may not work out, but if his new college team allowed him, he would love to be back.