It was an unexpected opportunity for Zach Maddin.
The 19-year-old baseball pitcher from Yorkton made his first Western Major Baseball League start Wednesday. He went seven-plus innings, scattering five hits, allowing three runs, two of those earned, while walking five and striking out five. He left the game trailing only 3-1. The Cardinals would end up losing the game 8-1.
Last week Maddin thought he had played his last baseball game of the season when he threw a 2-1 playoff game loss for the Yorkton Brewers in Langenburg.
But proverbial good luck came knocking for Maddin.
“The Cardinals are kind of hurting right now for some arms,” he said, adding the team let it be known they would look at local pitchers who were interested in throwing some innings.
Maddin was interested.
“I came and threw a bullpen after the game Tuesday against Swift Current,” he said.
The Cardinal brass liked what they saw.
“They gave me the ball and said I was pitching Wednesday,” said Maddin.
While admitting working eight hours Wednesday was tough on the eve of his WCBL debut, when he was finally on the mound he felt ready.
“My arm was feeling great,” he said.
Early on Maddin said he tried to keep his approach simple.
“The first few innings I wanted to get out there and loosen up,” he said, adding he focused on the fastball, and getting it across for strikes.
As the game wore on, and the Swift Current batters had seen him a couple of times, Maddin said he changed his pattern.
“It did get a little tougher,” he said, adding “I tried to use my baseball brain more.” That meant mixing in more off speed pitches, some curveballs and sliders and relying on his teammates.
“The defence behind me did a helluva job,” said Maddin, who was also quick to credit his catcher Matthew Korman.
Thursday morning Maddin admitted his right arm was “a little bit sore,” but he added he has a full four days rest ahead of him.
And then, Maddin will go to the mound again for the Cardinals, likely Monday or Tuesday next week against the Okotoks Dawgs the top team in the WCBL West.
For the local pitcher it’s a dream come true which he never expected would.
“It’s one of the things you kind of think up growing up in Yorkton,” he said, adding through his minor baseball the Cardinals were always around “helping us play ball, to learn the ropes.”
Now Maddin is wearing the jersey and looking to extend his baseball summer a few weeks with the Cardinals.
Next summer, well Maddin said he has been inspired by the opportunity and plans to put more effort into training over the winter with an eye to being on the team’s opening day staff in 2020, not just a late season emergency hurler.