There was plenty of Junior baseball played this past weekend, both at home and on the road. Going back to last Tuesday night on home field as they took on Willowbrook in South East Senior Baseball League action.
Then they spent the weekend in Weyburn in their first Regina Optimist Junior League action, where they were handed their first loss of the exhibition season.
Tuesday night against Willowbrook, Andrew Minchuk started on the mound for Yorkton and built up a 10-0 lead, before coming off in favour of Colby Parachoniak. Minchuk also set the tone for what would have been the first Junior Cardinal no-hitter since Tyson Nesbitt did it two summers ago at Pirie Field in Melville.
This time around, it snapped like a twig in the sixth inning, off a hit to centre field.
"Both (team's) starting pitchers three really well," offered Mark Jacobs, Yorkton's assistant coach and third baseman, before adding that "lots of guys are swinging the bats really well."
All of the Cardinals' output took place within the third and fourth innings; they did it off of eight hits.
Assistant coach Jacobs said he was happy with what he saw from Minchuk who took control from the start of the first inning and did not appear to get stuck at any point.
"Minchuk and Colby did well."
Minchuk, who is by far the biggest kid on the Cardinal roster this season, is in his first year as a Cardinal Junior, said he likes his new surroundings, and added that it could be a good year if things go the way they've gone so far throughout the month of May.
"I struggled a bit with location," he said afterwards, and added that the idea of throwing a no hitter wasn't something that occurred to him at all.
"I try not to think about that," he said of the possibly personal stats.
He also suggested that he wasn't expecting to build up a 10-run lead.
This past Thursday, Yorkton took on Melville for their second game in three nights, where they built up another lead and hung on late to secure a 7-3 victory.
Nesbitt led with four RBIs.
"It was a good game (but) we need the competition," notes Brian Trollope, head coach of the Cardinals.
Yorkton jumped out to a 7-0 lead through four complete innings. Melville got two back in the fifth and one more in the sixth.
Yorkton finished the game with 11 hits and two errors while the visiting Bisons had seven hits and one error.
Ross Stilborn was the offensive leader, scoring three times, Logan Calanchie had two, while Jayden Shwaga and Luke Boechler each had one. Each also had a stolen base as well as Dan Lamb.
Matt Poirier started the game and got the win, pitching four-and-a-half innings, faced 19 Melville batters, allowed five hits and two runs, striking out five.
Craig Kinvig relieved in the middle of the fifth, went just under two-and-a-half, gave up two hits and allowed one run, striking out three.
Trollope add that there is a big weekend coming up which will see the Cardinals head to Weyburn for a doubleheader on Sunday.
"We're ready to go this week," he offered, adding that they expect to see some of the top pitchers in Junior baseball.
Boechler, an infielder who is back playing with the team following a one-year leave after being diagnosed with leukemia, hasn't looked out of place through the opening six games of the exhibition season; Trollope added that there aren't really expectations for Boechler.
"He's always been part of this team. For expectations, it's really hard to say.
Assistant coach Jacobs suggested he's become "a natural leader" who "didn't miss a beat" as he was the first Junior Cardinal this season to record a run scored (May 14 vs Hamiota).
Yorkton trekked to Weyburn over the weekend where they played the Beaver's Junior club. In the opening game of the doubleheader, Yorkton won 6-4. The visitors took a 2-0 lead in the second, added two more in the fourth and one in each of the fifth and sixth. Weyburn made things interesting late, climbing to within two scores, but couldn't inch any closer.
"We got off to a good start with an early four-run lead," attests Cardinal catcher Dalane Lamb. "Calanchie pitched very well and Minchuk came in for the save.
Stilborn chalked up the team's second home run and threw in three RBIs.
The home side won the rematch 10-4. The teams combined for four scores each in the opening inning but from there on in, it was all Weyburn. The teams combined for seven errors.
"The Cardinals' defence struggled while the pitching also struggled," said Lamb.
He said things went well in terms of the baseball itself, but had to give some credit to Weyburn, whom he said showed they can really play.
"Weyburn's a good team and will also be a very tough opponent when provincials come here (July-Aug)."
Four Cardinals were missing from the line-up for the road trip: Justin Stupak, Scott Sharp, Colby Parachoniak, and Brett Kobelka.
Next for the Cardinals will be back-to-back doubleheaders in Yorkton starting 1 p.m., on Saturday. There is also a possibility of a date with the Yankees Friday night at 8 p.m.
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