Cardinals start strong
Midget AAA team victorious on opening day in Norwest league
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, May 03, 2014 06:00 am
The St. Albert Cardinals started the season with a bang in Wednesday’s midget AAA lid-lifter.
Jackson Wark and Tanner Karpinski combined on a no-hitter while striking out six in the 6-2 victory over SEEBA 1 in the Norwest baseball league.
First baseman Erik Sabrowski batted in three runs and third baseman Connor Burns drove home a pair as the Cardinals racked up nine hits at Legion Memorial Park.
“We played the game really well all the away around,” Burns said. “We didn’t make an error. Every play was good. Pitching did pretty good. We had eight walks but we still didn’t let out any hits. We got in good at-bats and we were hustling everything out.”
Wark fanned four and issued eight walks before Karpinski took over in relief with the bases load in the sixth with none out and the Cardinals in front 6-0. A wild pitch and a putout led to both SEEBA runs.
Wark faced 23 batters and Karpinski struck-out two out of six batters.
The Cardinals scored all the runs they needed in their first at-bat and added three more in the fifth.
Centre-fielder Evan Loranger led off the bottom of the first with a single after a lengthy at-bat, left-fielder Logan Harvey followed with another single and after shortstop Austin Watamaniuk flied out, Burns cleared the bases with a double.
Burns scored the third run on Sabrowski’s triple.
In the fifth the Cardinals pushed three runs across on two hits and a SEEBA error. Loranger was hit by a pitch with one out and Harvey’s double moved him to third. With two out Sabrowski singled home Harvey and Watamaniuk, who got on base on an error and later stole second.
Sabrowski, Harvey and Loranger finished the win with two hits apiece.
“It was a great game and it started really from our first at-bat. (Loranger) grinded it out, it was like an eight-pitch at-bat to get on, and it kind of set the tone from there. We scored three runs and just kept on rolling from there,” Burns said.
SEEBA starting pitcher Kurt Meeborg struck out four and didn’t walk a batter while giving up six runs, five earned, on eight hits over five innings.
“He wasn’t that bad. He’s a really good pitcher in the Norwest,” Burns said.
The Cardinals had a spring in their step in the season opener.
“Everyone was really pumped to get out there,” Burns said. “It was a perfect day to do it too. It was probably the nicest day so far this year.”
Several of the Cardinals had games under their belts the past two months with the Prospects Baseball Academy travel team. A trip to Atlanta is also scheduled for mid-May.
“There are about eight of us who play for the Prospects and before this game I think we’ve played about 15 games which helps a lot. We’ve seen the Langley Blaze and Vauxhall so we’ve seen some really good pitchers,” Burns said.
The Cardinals are armed and dangerous with all their returning pitchers back.
“We have one of the best staffs in the league this year. We haven’t lost a pitcher off the staff and we’ve added to our staff from last year so we’re really strong,” said Burns, a right-hander in the starting rotation.
Last year’s Tier 1 provincial finalists and Western Canadian gold medallists are the pre-season favourites to represent Alberta at nationals.
“We expect to go to nationals for sure this year. We only lost two players and we added five or six so there are really high expectations this year,” Burns said.
The Calgary Dinos and Sherwood Park Dukes are also considered provincial contenders.
“They’re our biggest competition this year,” said Burns, 17.
The third-year midget AAA Red Bird played in his first provincial final last year, an 11-10 loss to Okotoks Dawgs Red, the eventual national silver medallists. An error in the seventh led to the go-ahead run as Okotoks capped off the comeback win.
“We really saw what we needed to do to get that far day in and day out with each game and with each pitch,” said the Grade 12 Bellerose Composite High School student.
Today the Cardinals host the Red Deer Braves in a Norwest doubleheader at noon and 3 p.m. at Legion park.
Next Saturday the Cardinals are in Calgary for a twin-bill against Redbirds Black.